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Headlines Three Shot Dead at Ga. Trial; Gunman Flees

MaxPower

You're my number two
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WSB radio said:
Three Shot Dead at Ga. Trial; Gunman Flees

By HARRY WEBER
Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) -- A man being escorted into court for his rape trial Friday stole a deputy's gun, killed the judge and two other people and carjacked a reporter's vehicle to escape, setting off a massive manhunt and creating widespread chaos across Atlanta, police said.

Hundreds of officers in cruisers and helicopters swarmed the area in the search of the suspect, identified as 33-year-old Brian Nichols. The suspect, a former computer technician, had raised alarm a day earlier when he was found in court with two sharp objects hidden in his shoes, prosecutors said.

The rampage led to chaos around the city, with schools, restaurants and office buildings locking down amid fears that the suspect might strike again. Nichols' mug shot was plastered all over TV screens, and highway message boards issued descriptions of the stolen vehicle.

"Mr. Nichols is considered armed and extremely dangerous and should not be approached," Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman said. "We are not going to rest until we find him."

Nichols got the semiautomatic pistol by overpowering the female deputy while he was being led down a corridor in the Fulton County Courthouse, Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher said. After shooting the deputy in the face, the suspect then went to the courtroom, held about a dozen people at bay for a short time and shot and killed Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau, authorities said.

Another deputy, identified as Sgt. Hoyt Teasley, was later killed outside the Atlanta courthouse when he confronted the suspect, Dreher said.

At one point after the shootings, police said Nichols pistol-whipped a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, stole his green 1997 Honda Accord and sped away from a parking garage.

"When he had the gun in my face, you start to think, `How can I stay alive.' I thought this was a routine carjack. I didn't know two people other were killed," said Don O'Briant, a features writer for the paper.

The deputy shot while leading Nichols to court survived. The officer, identified as Cynthia Hall, was in critical condition but expected to survive.

The shootings occurred after the judge and prosecutors had requested extra security for deputies after investigators found the sharp objects in each of Nichols' shoes Thursday, prosecutor Gayle Abramson said. She said the shanks were apparently fashioned by sharpening pieces of a door knob assembly.

Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman said the extra security that was requested by the prosecutor's office was provided. He refused to elaborate.

Dreher said there were no other officers other than the female deputy assisting with taking Nichols to court. The law requires that defendants on trial not be handcuffed as they enter the courtroom, to make sure the sight of cuffs doesn't unfairly influence the jury. The shooting occurred shortly after Nichols had changed out of his prison uniform and into street clothes.

The shootings occurred shortly after 9 a.m. Friday _ the fourth day of Nichols' trial. Nichols had been facing a re-trial on charges of rape, sodomy, burglary, and false imprisonment, among others, after his earlier trial ended in a hung jury a week ago.

"I think he probably realized ... he might be convicted this time, he might not have a chance to walk out," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said. "We believe he came here with the intent to make sure that didn't happen."

Nichols was accused of bursting into his ex-girlfriend's home, binding her with duct tape and sexually assaulting her over three days. Howard said Nichols brought a loaded machine gun into the home and a cooler with food in case he was hungry.

Nichols, who had been jailed for the last six months, had faced a possible life prison sentence if convicted for rape.

Nichols' last known job was working as a computer technician for a subsidiary of Atlanta-based shipping giant UPS. Company spokesman Norm Black says Nichols joined the unit in March 2004 and left in September 2004, which was when he was arrested.

More than 100 state troopers and officers from several agencies, including the FBI, were assisting in the search, but there were few leads, said G.D. Stiles, a Fulton County deputy chief. Offers of help from officers on their days off were pouring in.

Nichols' attorney, Barry M. Hazen, told CNN that his client is a "very intelligent, articulate man" and never seemed violent. But he acknowledged the concern raised by the sharp objects found in his shoes.

"Judge Barnes indicated to us that he was going to have security in the courtroom beefed up for the remainder of the trial," said Hazen. "We were most concerned what reaction we would get if a jury were to convict him."

News of the judge being killed stunned Georgia's legal community, who praised Barnes for his personable approach to justice and his sense of humor.

"We're shook to the core," said Linda Dreyer, a longtime employee in the court administrator's office who knew Barnes.

"This is a profound shock. It's so unthinkable, it's like a 9-11 at the courthouse," said fellow Judge Craig Schwall.

Among the recent cases that Barnes handled was the sentencing of Atlanta Thrashers player Dany Heatley, who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of a teammate.

Barnes, 64, also drew national attention last month when he approved a plea deal that required a mother of seven who pleaded guilty to killing her 5-week-old daughter to have a medical procedure that would prevent her from having more children.

James Bailey, a juror at Nichols' trial, said the jury was not in the courtroom at the time of the shooting. He said Nichols had made him and other jurors nervous. "Every time he looked up, he was staring at you," Bailey said.

A reward of $60,000 was being offered for information leading to Nichols' capture
This guy already has a huge rap sheet including being arrested with an automatic weapon, several other illegal firearms, and a 10 lb duffle bag of weed. Can anyone think of a good reason why this guy was walking the street, let alone still filling his filthy lungs with our air?

Let' s get some input from some of our Georgia members.
 

edub1371

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Good candidate for a dog food source if you ask me.
 

DanGeo23

Resident Conservative
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#3
some wierd karma thing... he is the same judge that said... ok.. so you intended to kill your 5 week old baby 2 days after you brought it home from the hospital... and your other six kids are all being cared for by the state... ok.... 5 months probation and get your tubes tied....

doesn't sound like justice for killing an infant...
 

MaxPower

You're my number two
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#4
DanGeo23 said:
some wierd karma thing... he is the same judge that said... ok.. so you intended to kill your 5 week old baby 2 days after you brought it home from the hospital... and your other six kids are all being cared for by the state... ok.... 5 months probation and get your tubes tied....

doesn't sound like justice for killing an infant...
I missed all that by a day. Just flew in from atlanta wednesday night.
 

DanGeo23

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all in all he seems ... well.. criminally smart... carjack a car... then park it a floor down in an almost full parking garage... they think you are on the highway in a green accord.. you walk away.... the car they are looking for all over the state is right under thier noses... gotta give him props for a good plan.... he should still fry...

I cannot believe that he also came to court a couple days earlier with 2 shanks on him... and they requested more security.. didn't happen... instead they left him alone with a five foot tall 50 something year old grandmother... not smart...
 

ferengi

Yay fire!
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#7
DanGeo23 said:
I cannot believe that he also came to court a couple days earlier with 2 shanks on him... and they requested more security.. didn't happen... instead they left him alone with a five foot tall 50 something year old grandmother... not smart...
Whoever decided that a short old woman could handle a 6'1" 200lb man should be arrested for stupidity (damn, too bad there's no law against that... probably for the best though... half of the population would be in prison sucking up my tax dollars if that were the case... [/tangent]).
 

tzedek

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someone is going to get fired over this
 

gurlgonewild

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#11
'I believe God brought him to my door'

> By BILL RANKIN, DON PLUMMER
Cox News Service
> Monday, March 14, 2005 ATLANTA — Just two days after moving into her apartment, Ashley Smith is up late unpacking. About 2 a.m. Saturday, the 26-year-old runs out of cigarettes and heads to a local convenience store to buy a pack. When she returns, she sees a man in a truck waiting outside her door. As she slides her key into the lock, she turns to see the man from the truck. She screams. He pokes a gun into her ribs."Stop screaming," he demands. "I won't hurt you if you stop screaming." She fears the worst — that she will be raped and killed.

She recognizes him: Brian G. Nichols. She begins to tremble. "I won't hurt you," he tells her. "I don't want to hurt anyone else," he says. Worried that her screams could bring too much attention, he warns her. "If you scream, the police will come. There will be a hostage situation," he says. "I'll have to kill you and kill myself."

He binds her with masking tape and carries her into the bedroom, where he restrains her with more tape, an electrical cord and some curtains. He makes no sexual advance. "I just need to relax," he tells her. He needs a shower and leads her as she hops back to the bathroom. He sits her on the chair and drapes a towel over her head for modesty. He places his guns on the counter and showers.

Afterward she finds him some fresh clothes — a T-shirt and trousers — and he seems to be calmer.He unbinds her and they sit in her living room. "I've had a really long day," he says. "I feel like I'm a warrior — that people of my color have gone through a lot." But he says he's had enough. "I don't want to hurt anybody anymore," he tells her. "I don't want to kill anybody. "I want to rest." The tenor of the moment becomes more normal, as normal as it could be.

Smith asks if he would mind if she reads. Nichols says OK. She gets the book she'd been reading, "The Purpose Driven Life." It is a book that offers daily guidance. She picks up where she left off — the first paragraph of the 33rd chapter.

"We serve God by serving others. The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige and position. If you can demand service from others you've arrived. In our self serving culture with its me first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept." He stops her and asks her to read the passage again.

She talks about her family. Her husband died in her arms four years ago after he had been stabbed in a knife fight in Augusta, her hometown. She has a 5-year-old daughter. She asks him not to kill her because that would leave her daughter without a mother or a father. She tells him she is supposed to meet her daughter Saturday morning about 10 a.m. She hadn't seen her in two weeks. "She's expecting to see me," she tells him. "She's already been through a lot in her life." Smith shows Nichols her husband's autopsy report.

"You can go in there right now, pick up that gun and kill me," he tells her. "I'd rather you do it than the police." They sit watching the TV news of the shooting spree. The screen fills with the story of his attack on Cynthia Hall, the 51-year-old deputy he had overpowered Friday morning to begin his rampage. "I didn't shoot her," Nichols interjects. "I hit her really hard. Lord, I'm sorry. . . . I hope she lives." He sees himself on the broadcast. "I can't believe that's me," he says. "I didn't want to kill him," Nichols says. "He wouldn't do what I asked him to do. He fought me, so I had to kill him."

Around 6:15 a.m., Nichols says that before sunrise he needs to move the truck he had stolen from Wilhelm. Smith agrees to follow him in her car. He leaves the guns under her bed. As they drive, Smith thinks about calling 911 on her cellphone, but she decides against it. She fears police will come and surround them. There'd be a shootout. Nichols ditches the truck, about two miles from the apartment complex. "Wow, you didn't drive off," Nichols says as he gets into her car. "I thought you were going to." She drives him back to her apartment. She no longer doubts that she will be set free.

Back at the apartment, Nichols is hungry. She cooks him eggs and pancakes, gives him fruit juice. They have breakfast together. Nichols asks when she needs to see her daughter. At 10:00 a.m., Smith responds. It'd be good if she could leave at 9:30 to get there. Smith washes the dishes and gets ready to leave.

Nichols asks her to come visit him in jail. "You're an angel sent from God to me," he tells her. "I want to talk to you again. Will you come see me?" She tells him she will. "I'll be back in a little while," she says as she prepares to leave. Nichols gives her an odd look that leads Smith to doubt whether he believes her.Nichols holds a tool from Wilhelm's truck and asks if he can hang some pictures or some curtains. Smith tells him to do whatever he likes.

As she walks out of the apartment in the bright, warm daylight, Smith begins to shake all over. She drives to a stop sign and dials 911. She tells the dispatcher that Nichols is in her apartment. Within minutes, a police SWAT team swarms outside Smith's apartment. Nichols holds out a white piece of cloth and surrenders. Sunday night, after recounting her time with Nichols, Smith says she has found some purpose to his finding her. "I believe God brought him to my door so he couldn't hurt anyone else," she says.
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/shared/news/nation/stories/03/14_COURT_HOSTAGE.html

a strange story, of a strange man. :confused:
he covered her head for modesty and wanted to hang some pictures or curtains? i think it's a little too late for that buddy.