The 1996 summer Olympics began on a sad note on Day 9 as the day was began with terrorism strikes. It exploded at 1.25 a.m. on Day 9. Fashioned crudely from a length of pipe and using common nails and screws for its deadly shrapnel, the homemade weapon ripped into a crowd at a free rock concert in Centennial Olympic Park. The blast killed an Albany, GA, woman, 44-year-old Alice Hawthorne, and over 100 people were injured. Minutes later, while rushing to cover the tragedy, 40-year-old Turkish journalist Melih Uzunyol suffered a heart attack; he died after being rushed to the hospital.
As police began the hunt for the perpetrator and emergency medical teams treated the wounded, games organizers worked to insure that the competitions would proceed, albeit with heightened security. As a result, hundreds of thousands of fans jammed venues for various events that day and at Olympic Stadium that evening a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80,000 watched Donovan Bailey shatter the world record in the games’ glamour event, the 100-meter dash. If only for a moment the excitement of the Olympics, eased the sorrow and fear that followed the early morning tragedy.
Atlanta natives showed courage and civic-mindedness in standing up for their city in the days following the terrorist attack. By the thousands, they trooped back to Centennial Olympic Park when it was reopened, as if to say ‘We are not afraid.’ Months after the blast, police had yet to arrest anyone for the crime; a security guard named Richard Jewell had emerged as a prime suspect, but he was cleared in November. The 1996 summer Olympics however sent shocking across the world due to the terrorism strikes that greeted the event.