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Cops Seek Witness in Clinic Bombing

January 31, 1998

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ When Robert Sanderson needed some extra money, fellow police Officer Scott Morro referred him to a security guard job at an health clinic where abortions were performed.

Morro remembered his friend with a strip of black tape over his badge Friday, a day after Sanderson was killed in an explosion outside the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic.

``I think their purpose in blowing up my friend is so that I wouldn’t be out here,″ Morro said as he worked security at a nearby clinic. ``But it’s not going to work.″

Authorities were searching for a North Carolina man who may have been a witness to Thursday’s bombing, which also critically injured a nurse.

A warrant was issued for Eric Robert Rudolph, 31, said U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, who stressed Rudolph was not under suspicion in the bombing. ``No one should jump to any conclusions about the fact we are seeking Mr. Rudolph,″ Jones said.

Rudolph’s pickup truck, which is registered in Asheville, N.C., was seen near the clinic right after the bomb exploded. Jones declined to give further details on Rudolph. The National Coalition of Abortion Providers has alerted clinics in the Southeast to be on the lookout for the 1989 gray Nissan truck.

The homemade bomb laced with nails blew up outside the clinic a week after the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Sanderson, 35, was the sixth person killed in abortion clinic violence since March 1993. He is the first to die in a U.S. clinic bombing.

Emily Lyons, a nurse and counselor, suffered extensive injuries to her legs, abdomen and face, including the loss of an eye.

Attorney General Janet Reno, speaking in Miami Beach, Fla., said the FBI and Justice Department ``are working with all concerned to make sure every effort is made to apprehend the person or persons responsible.″

Diane Derzis, a co-owner of the clinic, said it would reopen soon, perhaps next week.

The clinic where Morro was working reopened in defiance Friday. ``This Clinic stays open,″ read a sign in a window of the Summit Medical Center.

Two volunteers were outside the Summit clinic by 8 a.m. to escort patients into the building. Two police officers and a U.S. marshal stood watch.

Lisa Santer, one of the escorts, said it was her first time volunteering. She offered to help after hearing about the bombing ``because I was furious.″

``I think allowing a bombing to frighten us is not a fitting tribute to a person who gives their life or a part of their body,″ Ms. Santer said.