Cleared Atlanta Olympic bombing suspect dies

ATLANTA Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:25pm EDT

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ATLANTA (Reuters) - A man named as a suspect in the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing of 1996 and later cleared without being charged has died at his home, a Georgia coroner said on Wednesday.

Richard Jewell worked as a security guard at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park at the time of the July 27 bombing, which killed one person, injured more than 100 and marred the 1996 Olympics.

Jewell was at first praised because he discovered a suspicious knapsack that contained the pipe bomb and helped evacuate people from the park. But he was later named as a chief suspect by the FBI on grounds that he may have acted as a lone bomber.

Jewell, who sued some media outlets for defamation after he was cleared, worked as a law enforcement officer after the episode, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported.

"He did die this morning at his residence. He died of natural causes. He had been home sick with diabetes and also had some kidney problems," Meriwether County Coroner Johnny Worley said in an interview.

"There was no suspicion of foul play or suicide," Worley said, adding that there would be an autopsy.

Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing in 2005 and is serving life in prison for it and other attacks.

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