Richard Jewell just wanted to be an anonymous fan at a recent Atlanta Braves baseball game.
No such luck.
“Are you going to blow up the new stadium, too?” a group taunted the former Olympic security guard.
Nearly a year after the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park, Jewell is fueled by anger. He spends most of his days reliving the nightmare.
His career aspirations and social life are over, and his good nature has been replaced with paranoia and distrust.
When he’s not fending off accusations from strangers, he’s at his lawyers’ office, working on lawsuits against those he says ruined his life.
“Every time somebody walks up to me, I’ve got to wonder what they want.” he said during a recent interview. “Do they want to kill me? Do they want money? Do they want to sell their story?”
Jewell, 34, was a security guard working a temporary job for low pay. He was called a hero for spotting a suspicious package and helping to evacuate people before the July 27 explosion.
Three days later he became a villain when his name was leaked to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a suspect. The media descended on his apartment, monitoring his every move for nearly three months. He was cleared in October. There have been no arrests in the bombing.
Jewell filed a libel lawsuit in January against Cox Enterprises Inc., the parent company of the Journal-Constitution.
In December, he reached a settlement with NBC over comments anchorman Tom Brokaw made on the air shortly after the bombing. The Wall Street Journal has said the settlement was worth $500,000. He also settled with CNN for an undisclosed amount.
Jewell has used part of the money to buy a home, and he also helped his mother pay for a condominium. But almost all of his money is going to fight the newspaper and the federal government, said Jewell’s attorney, Lin Wood.
Jewell has accepted a job as a construction worker to help make ends meet. He is expected to start work in two weeks.
Thanks to ex-employers and so-called friends who sold stories about Jewell’s life, and a woman who went on a date with him then sold the details to a tabloid, Jewell has little trust left in people.
Much of his boyish, “aw shucks” demeanor during earlier interviews has disappeared.
During the 90-minute interview with the Associated Press, Jewell’s face reddened and his voice rose. Scolding, he shook his finger as he talked about “you guys in the media” and “those FBI agents.”
“I’ve got two of the biggest monsters - the FBI and Cox Enterprises Inc. - in the country that I’m dealing with,” Jewell said. “It’s just me and my four (attorneys).”
“There’s two monsters, and I’ve only got one rock. I’m waiting for the two of them to line up and then I going to bean them as hard I can.”