FBI agent a witness to history - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

FBI agent a witness to history

August 25, 2005

Albany-- An FBI Agent who helped catch Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph gives the credit for his arrest to brave people who witnessed his crimes. Retired agent Bill Fleming is a native of Albany. He was also instrumental in catching the men who bombed a Birmingham Church in 1963. Bill Fleming was one of the FBI Agents investigating the 1998 Women's Clinic Bombing in Birmingham.

Fleming said an Alabama Birmingham student was the key to identifying Eric Rudolph, who was standing there when the bomb went off. "He sees one man who is not doing anything. He is not holding his ears, he is not crouched. It's as if he knew what was going to happen," Fleming said.

Fleming said Rudolph set off that bomb with a remote control, then calmly walked away, with the student following him. "He ultimately gets the license tag of the vehicle that Rudolph gets in," said Fleming.

Fleming watched with interest as Rudolph was sentenced to life for the four bombings in Georgia and Alabama. "We were fortunate to have played a role in doing that. You wish you could be that rookie cop up there that put the cuffs on him."

Bill Fleming's biggest satisfaction was the conviction of Ku Klux Klansmen who blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, killing four little girls. "We got to change history," he said.

Fleming was assigned to the case in 1995, that ended with the convictions of Bobby Frank Cherry and Tommy Blanton. "To think that we brought something in this case for those little girls is absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me."

Bill Fleming was named the 2002 Federal Employee of the Year, for solving that 1963 church bombing, more than 35 years later bringing justice in one of the worst crimes during the Civil Rights Movement.

Even though he's retired, Bill Fleming is still investigating civil rights crimes. He is working on the 1946 shotgun slayings of four blacks near Monroe Georgia, called the Moors Ford executions.

Feedback: news@walb.com