BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Investigators probing the fatal bombing of an Alabama abortion clinic said Jan. 30 they were seeking a man whose truck was seen parked near the site.

A material witness warrant has been issued for Eric Robert Rudolph, a 31-year-old white male from Marble, N.C., U.S. Attorney Doug Jones said. He stressed Rudolph was only wanted as a witness, not a suspect.

An off-duty policeman guarding the New Woman, All Women Health Care clinic near downtown Birmingham was killed and a nurse was critically wounded by the explosion of a homemade bomb Jan. 29.

Rudolph’s grey Nissan truck was seen near the clinic, Jones said. “The investigators have not jumped to any conclusions. The media should not jump to any conclusions,” Jones said. “(The truck) was seen in the proximity around the explosion site. We want to talk to Mr. Rudolph about the truck.”

“We are looking for Mr. Rudolph only as a material witness,” added Joe Lewis, special agent in charge of the FBI in Birmingham.

Placed near entrance

The homemade bomb was placed a few feet in front of the clinic entrance, investigators said.

Clinic owner Diane Derzis said police officer Robert Sanderson was killed as he escorted nurse Emily Lyons to the front door to open the clinic.

Lyons remained in hospital in intensive care Jan. 30, recovering from severe leg, abdominal and facial injuries. Doctors said she has lost sight in one eye.

Derzis said the clinic, which advertises that it offers to abort fetuses up to 22 weeks after conception, would continue to operate. “As soon as they finish the crime scene, we will reopen,” she said.

James Cavanaugh, agent in charge of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) office in Birmingham, said the bomb was packed with nails, but gave no further details.

“We do feel confident that we will be able to reconstruct to some degree the explosive device,” Cavanaugh said. “We have had a very aggressive, thorough and indeed microscopic examination of the crime scene.”

Federal authorities called in experts who have been trying to solve three bombings that have occurred in Atlanta, including one at a women’s health clinic Jan. 16, 1997 that injured seven people.

Investigators have said that last year’s bombing of a gay nightclub in Atlanta and the explosion that killed two people and injured 111 others during the Olympics July 27, 1996, were probably linked to the Atlanta clinic bombing.

Too early’

“It’s too early to make determinations on whether this device is connected to that or any other device,” Cavanaugh said. “It would be speculation, at best.”

Meanwhile, the National Coalition for Life and Peace, a nationwide coalition of pro-life organizations and individuals that oppose abortion-related violence, expressed its unequivocal condemnation of a bombing at the Birmingham, Ala. abortion facility.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this explosion. At this time it is not known who was responsible. Regardless, the pro-life movement once again condemns in the strongest of terms this act of abortion-related violence, as it has on every previous occasion. Abortion-related violence has no place in the right-to-life movement or our country and pro-life people will continue to only engage in peaceful, legal activities which will protect life,” co-ordinator Steven Ertelt commented.

Sally Winn, co-director of Women and Children First, added, “We express our deepest sympathy for the families of the officer whose life was lost and those who suffered injuries in this explosion.”

Ertelt continued, “We who support the right-to-life disagree with abortion advocates on the legalization of abortion on demand. But this is one point where we find common ground; namely, our deep-felt conviction that violence related to abortion is always wrong.”

The National Coalition for Life and Peace has worked through the Internet to unite pro-life organizations and individuals around the pro-life movement’s historical condemnation of abortion-related violence.

Pro-life persons are able to sign a pledge which indicates, “As a pro-life person I affirm, with all alacrity and fervor, my unequivocal opposition to and condemnation of violence.”

— Pro-Life E News Canada