March/April, 1998 Volume XII Number 11
Blast rocks Birmingham abortuary; 1 killed, 1 injured
Birmingham, AL -- The last thing Menzor Chadwick expected was an explosion. It was an otherwise ordinary Thursday morning on January 29 when Chadwick stood across the street from the New Woman All Women Health Care abortion clinic at 1001 17th St. South with his "abortion kills children" sign.
It was routine. Chadwick is there every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning -- Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are reserved for Summit abortuary just blocks away. Friday he pickets at Planned Parenthood.
But at 7:30 a.m. that morning, Chadwick heard a loud sound followed by a concussion that pushed against him. He was peppered with "something like firecracker debris -- like sand."
At first he thought someone was trying to shoot him or blow up his truck which was parked nearby, but then he saw people running toward the abortuary door directly across the street from where he stood.
Later he realized that the injunction at the clinic which was responsible for him having to picket across the street had probably kept him from getting more severely injured.
"I would have been only a few feet from the door," he said.
At the time, however, he could see the damage, but did not see the bodies of Robert Dewayne Sanderson, 35 and now deceased, a Burmingham police officer who moonlighted as security for the clinic, or the still-living body of Emily Lyons, a nurse and "counselor" at the clinic. He ran to make a phone call to the local pro-life group to tell them of the explosion.
After the call, police arrested and handcuffed him. He remained handcuffed for three hours before police began treating him as a witness rather than a suspect.
The blast came from a bomb which was wrapped up to look like a delivery package according to witnesses. Lyons, 41, apparently saw the package was suspicious and called upon Sanderson to deal with it. According to Kim McGowan, who also worked at New Woman All Women Health Care, Lyons often took charge when suspicious packages arrived.
"We would get these packages in the mail and she would say, 'Okay everybody, let's just get this thing outside and call the police,'" McGowan said.
Several news reports indicated that the trigger device was the sensing apparatus for an automobile alarm system which detects proximity and motion.
The package apparently exploded as Sanderson bent over to pick it up and Lyons looked on.
Sanderson was killed instantly, his body thrown into the shrubbery inside the railing next to the sidewalk. Lyons took a lot of the shrapnel and lay crumpled beside the clinic door. The clinic awning was shredded and several windows were destroyed and the front of the building was speckled where nails and other fragments hit the painted brick front. A large crater remained where the bomb once was.
A fellow officer, in later describing Sanderson, said, "He was opposed to abortion, but was professional enough to separate his personal views from duty."
Authorities describe the device as "homemade" and "full of lots of nails" -- anti-personnel bomb designed to kill and injure rather than destroy property.
In seeking bomb fragments for their investigation, authorities soon realized that many of them were embedded in the bodies of Sanderson and Lyons.
Police immediately cordoned off several blocks, but not before another local activist, Jeff Dykes, and an unidentified woman, both of whom live within two hundred feet of the clinic, took photographs. The woman immediately made two sets of prints and gave one set to Dykes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation came moments later to "interview" Dykes and confiscated the photos.
Immediately, speculation was raised that the incident was connected to three bombings in Atlanta, Georgia -- the first at the Olympic Games, one at an abortuary, and another at a homosexual nightclub.
This is the first abortuary bombing in which someone was killed.
Man with a wig, a man with a truck, and the AOG
Shortly after the blast, reports surfaced that a man was seen leaving the area taking off a wig and stuffing it into a blue bag.
As more became known, additional witnesses claimed to have seen a 1989 gray Nissan pick-up truck with a gray canopy in the area. The vehicle was registered to Eric Robert Rudolph, 31, whose last address was in Marble, North Carolina.
Linda Bourgeois, administrator of Healthcare Center, a Huntsville, Alabama abortuary, claims to have been contacted by the National Coalition of Abortion Providers and warned about the truck.
"They said it was a possible suspect and their policy is to notify the clinics in the area," she said.
After several days, police received a claim that the Army of God (AOG) was responsible for the blast.
Police made comparisons with the Atlanta bombings but revealed no details on the connections.
Immediately after the blast, the National Right to Life Committee, Operation Rescue/Birmingham, and President Bill Clinton came out on the same side of the issue. All condemned the bombing as "cowardly" or the act of a "terrorist."
Feminists for Life (FFL) issued a statement offering a reward for the capture of the bomber and setting up a fund to gather the reward money. Abortionist Bruce Lucero joined FFL in their condemnation of the act. Lucero, according to the press release, "advises FFL on abortion ." The two have "teamed up to address the root causes that contribute to abortion."
On the other end of the spectrum stood the lonely figure of activist Jeff Dykes, who said, "I don't like to see anybody die, but they're in the business of death. You live by the sword, you die by the sword."
Dykes has since received many death threats from people who object to his "violent" opinion.
The bomb fragments are now in the custody of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) in Atlanta and are being compared by the same BATF chemists with the fragments of the Atlanta bombs.
The search for Eric Robert Rudolph continues. The U.S. Attorney says that Rudolph is being sought "only" as a material witness and not as a suspect. His gray pick-up was allegedly also seen at 8:00 a.m. on that morning at a local McDonald's.
Though he is said to have been living in Marble, he has no mailing address or Post Office box there.
The hunt continues.
The text of the alleged letter from the Army of God
"The bombing in Birmingham was carried out by the Army of God. Let those who work in the murder mill's [sic] around the nation be warned once more -- you will be targeted without quarter -- you are not immune from retaliation. your commissar's [sic] in Washington can't protect you!
"With the distrobution [sic] of the genocidal pill RU-486 it is hoped the resistance will end. We will target anyone who manufactures, markets, sells and distrobutes [sic] the pill.
"Death to the New World Order.
"FBI number: 4-1-99-3."
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