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Mother Fears Bomb Suspect Will Be Shot

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Eric Rudolph’s mother says she is worried the accused abortion clinic bomber may be shot on sight by federal agents searching for him in the woods of western North Carolina, a statement issued on her behalf said Saturday.

Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop issued a statement condemning violence in an apparent response to statements of a priest who appeared to defend Rudolph, the Charlotte Observer reported Saturday.

In her statement, Patricia Rudolph said she wants to express her love and devotion to her son.

“She also wants to communicate that she is deeply concerned for the safety of Eric as well as the safety of the officers and agents conducting the search,” said the statement released by Asheville attorney David Payne.

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“In addition, Mrs. Rudolph wants her son to know many believe he is innocent of the charged offense.”

Payne, who said he represents Patricia Rudolph, did not return a call left at his law office seeking further comment. She lives near Tampa, Fla.

There is a $1-million reward for information leading to Rudolph’s capture, and he is one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted suspects.

Search teams looking for him on Saturday entered the woods near a popular tourist rafting center on the Nantahala River, which is very close to Rudolph’s boyhood home.

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Rudolph, 31, is charged in the abortion clinic bombing Jan. 29 in Birmingham, Ala., that killed an off-duty policeman and wounded a nurse.

He is also sought for questioning in three Atlanta-area bombings, including the 1996 Olympics blast that killed one person and injured more than 100 others.

The manhunt for Rudolph began in early February when his pickup truck was found in the area. The search was stepped up this month when a Nantahala resident reported that Rudolph came to him for food. For the last two weeks, more than 200 federal agents have searched the dense southern Appalachian forests near Andrews.

During the search, the Rev. Conrad Kimbrough told the Associated Press that he doubts Rudolph will be found to be “an unprincipled killer.”

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The priest also said the wounded nurse --who has urged the public to help authorities with the manhunt--did not deserve support because “she has been instrumental in killing babies.”

Charlotte Catholic Bishop William Curlin issued a statement that violence is not acceptable in the cause against abortion.

“Those who see terrorist bombing and other violent acts as justifiable in the pro-life movement are contradicting the gospel message,” wrote Curling.

Kimbrough, a retired priest who has been filling in for two months at two Catholic churches in this region, later denied making the remarks when contacted by the Observer.

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