October 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Bomb Parts Found In Shooting Case Olympic Bombing Investigators Find Components In Man’s Home

Chelsea J. Carter Associated Press
 

The task force investigating the Olympic bombing and two other Atlanta attacks found bomb components at the home of a man accused of gunning down two police officers.

“It was brought to our attention, and we’re looking in to it,” FBI spokeswoman Celestine Armstead said Tuesday. “That’s all we are prepared to say at this time.”

Federal and state bomb investigators were called in on Monday after Atlanta police arrested Gregory Paul Lawler, 45, on charges of murder and aggravated assault in the shooting death of officer John Sowa, 28, and the wounding of office Patricia Cocciolone, 35.

But Lawler’s attorney said his client had nothing to do with the bombings.

“They are looking at him because they don’t have anyone else to look at,” said Michael Hauptman.

The task forced seized the explosive materials from Lawler’s apartment along with militia manuals and stockpiled weapons. It was not immediately known what sort of explosive materials and firearms were seized.

Hauptman said the firearms were legal and the explosives were actually bullet-making materials.

“It’s not uncommon to have 1,000 rounds of ammunition when you shoot at a range,” he said. “He was making his own bullets.”

The task force - formed after the 1996 bombing that killed one person and injured more than 100 during the Olympics - took over investigation of the January bombing at an abortion clinic and the February bombing of a gay nightclub when it was decided all were probably related.

Recently, the task force released composite sketches of a bearded man believed to have been in the areas of the two most recent bombings.

Officials of the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta police declined to say Tuesday whether Lawler, who had a beard at the time of the shootings, could be the man in the sketches.

Atlanta police spokesman John Quigley said Lawler cut his hair and shaved his beard during a six-hour standoff with police at his apartment after the shootings.

Sowa and Cocciolone were shot as they investigated a report that Lawler was beating his girlfriend. Lawler allegedly fired 16 shots at the officers. Cocciolone remained in critical condition Tuesday.


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