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By PHILIP MESSING, JOE McGURK and CYNTHIA R. FAGEN
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November 7, 2004 -- A Georgia man despondent over the outcome of the presidential election climbed into the construc tion pit at Ground Zero and blew his brains out with a 12-gauge shotgun, authorities said yester day.
Police said Andrew Veal, 25, of Athens, Ga., had a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey at his side when he took his life sometime Friday night.
Although he did not leave a note, the sources said they had information that Presi dent Bush's re-election fueled Veal's desperate act.
Veal, who worked as a project coordinator in charge of conducting phone polls for political and non-profit surveys for the University of Georgia, went missing late Tuesday, Election Day.
"I don't know if he was pro-[John] Kerry, but I knew he was anti-Bush. I just didn't think he would take his frustration out in such a way," said a close co-worker, Stacey Sutherland, 20.
She said Veal, who worked part-time at a friend's Italian restaurant because he wanted to switch careers and become a chef, apparently did not tell his fianc?e or his mother that he was headed to New York City.
"He was a wonderful person. He loved to clown around. He had a great sense of humor. This is a complete shock . . . because he used a gun. He was anti-violent and very opposed to the war in Iraq.
"I can't believe he would shoot himself. That was the hardest news to take, even though I can see it as a political statement," she said.
The lanky six-footer had pinned on the wall of his office a poster for the documentary "Control Room," about the Middle East TV news service al-Jazeera and its perspective on the Iraq war.
She said that the Univer sity of Georgia Survey Research Center where Veal worked had conducted a political phone poll a few weeks before the election and that "we were aware that President Bush was going to win Georgia."
Another co-worker, Lee Hall, said she, too, was shocked. "Besides, he had a wonderful fianc?e, Audrey, and they were very much in love," Hall said.
Sutherland said that Veal's family began to worry because he was supposed to go to Seattle on Wednesday for a vacation with Audrey.
"Andy's mom was looking for him," she said. "He came to work on Tuesday and left, and that was the last time anyone heard from him," she said.
Police said Veal scaled an eight-foot fence by the No. 1 and 9 subway line entrance on Church Street.
Sources did not know how he was able to slip past a security booth and into the restricted area late Friday, when police said he apparently took his life.
Sources said Veal eased himself on top of a "concrete box" before shooting himself in the head.
His body, with the shotgun lying on his chest, was discovered by a Millenium Hilton hotel patron who spotted "a man sleeping" from a room window and notified hotel security.
Investigators were trying to determine how Veal obtained the shotgun, which cops said had not been reported stolen
Additional reporting by Larry Celona and Ross Markman in Athens, Ga.
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