This weekend, the spotlight on the Olympic games took a grim turn from the exploits of the athletes to a deadly explosion in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. Today was a day for recovery and continued investigation. Tom Bearden reports.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available here.
TOM BEARDEN: Security precautions in Atlanta have been tightened considerably in the wake of Saturday's early-morning bombing. Olympic spectators have found longer lines and more thorough searches of their bags as they enter Olympic venues and ride public transportation. The park where the attack took place is scheduled to reopen tomorrow with a memorial service for the victims. Authorities say it will still be a public venue but say security will also be beefed up.
BOB BRENNAN, Atlanta Olympics Spokesman: There will be increased physical presence of law enforcement officers from all over the state. There will be increased electronic surveillance which we will not discuss in detail, as you know.
MR. BEARDEN: Visitors appeared mostly undeterred by the tragedy that left two people dead. They still flocked to the competition sites and many seemed relieved, rather than annoyed by the increased security precautions.
VISITOR: A little bit of this as opposed to somebody dying because of a bomb? You know, five minutes of my time isn't going to kill me, and I don't think it's going to hurt anybody else here either.
BOB BRENNAN: And the public has been remarkably patient, willing to stand in line, and, indeed, in some cases thanking us for the extra steps we're taking in terms of security. And they're not reflecting any complaints about the fact that we're having to keep them waiting a little bit longer to get in the stadium.
MR. BEARDEN: Bomb threats continued over the weekend. A shopping mall was evacuated, two subway stations, a bank, and a church were temporarily closed. Beverly Harvard is Atlanta's police chief.
BEVERLY HARVARD, Atlanta Police Chief: Well, I don't know if there appear to be copy cats, because we were receiving threats prior to the incident. We've not--we dispatch and we look into every call that we get. I mean, the same protocol is initiated on all calls, and to this point this is the only device, the one that actually went off is the only device that has actually been found.
MR. BEARDEN: Despite the continued threats, officials say they're determined to maintain the spirit of the games.
CHIEF BEVERLY HARVARD: It has not changed the atmosphere. And the athletes, the citizens, and the visitors, uh, have a resolve that as tragic as this incident was, uh, and is, that, uh, people are not going to be held hostage to an individual or individuals who would perpetrate an act like this and totally make it change all the positive things that were going on as it relates to the games, itself, as it relates to the positive spirit, uh, and atmosphere of the city.
MR. BEARDEN: But questions remain about how well the massive security apparatus responded to the one bomb threat that turned out to be real. Critics charge that the 911 operator who answered the original warning call didn't alert officers in the park quickly enough. Chief Harvard says police procedures were adequate and followed properly.
CHIEF BEVERLY HARVARD: We do have a protocol as it relates to bomb threats and that protocol was followed. An officer was dispatched to the location of the call.
MR. BEARDEN: Was there a delay, as has been alleged, about reporting this threat to the people in the park, the other security officers?
CHIEF BEVERLY HARVARD: No, there was not necessarily a delay. You have to keep in mind, uh, the call and then the officer in the park being notified by the security guard of a suspicious package when you go back and look at the time frame. These things were going on sort of simultaneously.
MR. BEARDEN: The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation and has shipped much of the physical evidence to Washington for analysis. This afternoon, agents and Chief Harvard held a briefing on the latest developments.
DAVID TUBBS, FBI Spokesman: An intensive investigation is continuing by the numerous law enforcement agencies involved. We are continuing to examine evidence and following up on a substantial amount of information that we are receiving.
There have been no additional explosive devices found, nor any arrests made. As you would expect and has been reported, investigators are contacting and speaking with a large number of people. This is typical of any investigation, and the purpose is to gather as much useful information as possible by talking to anybody and everybody who may know something about the explosion. It is important not to draw any conclusions from questions that are being asked. There continues to be interest in composite drawings of a so-called suspect.
This too is a normal part of an investigation, and should not suggest that we have identified the suspect. The FBI has not released any composite and does not intend to at this time. While it can sometimes be helpful to ask for public assistance by releasing a composite, for a variety of reasons we do not believe it would assist this investigation at this time. Many of you have asked for a transcript of the message called in on the 911 line from a pay phone just before the explosion. It's a very short message, so I will read it the way we have it. "There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes." Say it again, "There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes."
As you can see, it was a very simple, non-specific message. There was no more information given, and there was certainly nothing in the call that would have given security at Centennial Park an idea of where to start looking for a bomb. As I described yesterday, the 911 call was made outside--at this pay phone outside the downtown Day's Inn. We continue to be interested in hearing from anyone who may have been in that area and who may have heard or seen something at that time approximately 1 AM. Our toll free number is still in operation and will remain in 24-hour operation. It is 1-800-905- 1514. And as of about an hour ago, we have received 900 calls on that particular line. Right now, we have some composites that have been drawn, and I'm not willing at this time to label anyone a suspect.
The composites were drawn of individuals who may have been seen in the area about the time of the explosion, and for one reason or another composites were drawn and if and when we're ready to label them as suspect, then we would be willing to put the composites up. We're not ready to do that at this time.
MR. BEARDEN: The FBI says the investigation is making progress and the agency is confident the case will be solved.
DAVID TUBBS: History leads me to believe we will make an arrest. We will continue working the case until we make an arrest.