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Security Camera Depicts Suspect While Manhunt Continues After Atlanta Courthouse Murders

Aired March 12, 2005 - 07:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The first pictures of a suspect on the run.
New images from Turner Security this morning provide a clear view of a man suspected of killing a judge, a court reporter, and a sheriff's deputy.

Investigators are checking more security camera images right now to try and learn where Brian Nichols went next, hoping to find a lead that could lead them to the courthouse killer.

From the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, it is March 12.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.


We have the latest developments now in the manhunt for Brian Nichols, the suspect in yesterday's courthouse shootings in downtown Atlanta.

A judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy were killed in that rampage and another deputy was wounded. Now the car police thought was used in the getaway, a 1997 Honda Accord, well, that was found by a private citizen last night in the same parking garage where it was taken hours earlier from a newspaper reporter. The Honda was one of at least three vehicles the gunman carjacked in the minutes following the shootings. The suspect, Brian Nichols, is still on the loose at this hour and the manhunt is intense.

A state investigator describes it as the biggest in Georgia history.

HARRIS: These pictures of suspect Brian Nichols were obtained exclusively this morning by CNN. They were recorded by security cameras in the parking garage where the newspaper reporter was pistol- whipped and carjacked. These scenes show Nichols leaving level two of the parking garage, putting on a jacket. He apparently left behind the shirt he had worn at the courthouse.

This scene shows Brian Nichols going down the stairs to level one of the parking garage. It is not known if he stole another vehicle on that level or walked out onto the street and escaped.

As the manhunt continues, people living in and around Atlanta are being asked to report any sightings. Authorities also want to hear from residents or from any family members who might be missing, family members or close friends who might be missing. The police tip lines are 404-730-7982 or 1-888-6-FULTON.

NGUYEN: Any information can prove helpful at this point.

Police in Georgia and neighboring states launched a massive manhunt for suspect Brian Nichols, who is considered armed and very dangerous. Now, many schools in the area were locked down yesterday just as a precaution. Officers are appealing to the public for information and there is a reward that totals $60,000, at least at last report.

We want to get more on the manhunt now from CNN's Kimberly Osias in downtown Atlanta.

She is standing outside of that parking garage where the 1997 green Honda Accord was found overnight -- what do you know, Kimberly?

KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty and Tony, this is obviously a critical spot, critical for investigators because this is the last trace they have of the suspect, Brian Nichols. It was here where he was believed to have pistol-whipped a local newspaper reporter. Now, it wasn't the reporter that he was after, it was actually his car. But interestingly, he didn't leave in that car.

I want to show you this exclusive CNN surveillance video. Police are actually looking at it again, hoping to get some fresh new leads in this case. As you all know, there has been a BOLO -- that is sort of police parlance for be on the lookout for this man. Again, he is armed and dangerous, last seen here, stomping cold on floor two. We are actually one flight above that area. I went down there and looked around and could actually see the camera that took those pictures.

Now, he is seen in a different jacket. It is believed that he possibly could have put on the jacket of that reporter. And on the right side of him, you actually see a bit of a bulge. Perhaps he had a gun in him there. He obviously clearly stopped. He looked up, he looked down, couldn't figure out where exactly he was going to go. Well, he went down.

Now, whether or not he swapped out a car or he left on foot, police still don't know that. But obviously investigation is continuing. This morning they are going to reexamine that car very, very closely. And, again, it is critical for anybody that has any kind of information on this man to, of course, call police, because this is obviously the biggest manhunt, certainly, in Georgia history, and maybe even now the nation, which is involved, as well -- Betty, Tony.

NGUYEN: Kimberly, let's go back to that security video where we see Mr. Nichols walking down from level two to level one and then out the door in level one.

OSIAS: Right.

NGUYEN: For the viewers at home, tell them what is on level one, which is the last area where we see him on security camera video.

OSIAS: Right. I actually went down, Betty, to level one. And the interesting thing is there is a dome camera of sorts there, but what, I am told, actually is security officials say you can actually kind of snake by it if you're kind of sly. And, obviously, this guy, perhaps, is quite crafty. So you could actually not be caught on tape.

And also of note is the arm, actually, on that level, the arm that goes up and down is broken. Now, whether that is related to him or not, they simply don't know. But obviously that is of interest.

NGUYEN: And we actually have video of that, that security arm which allows cars in and out. You either have to have an access code to get out of that. I don't think there -- is there an area where you pay to get out or is it access code only, Kimberly?

OSIAS: I am told actually you can pay to get out. But, Betty, what is key here is obviously this is a man on the lam who doesn't have copious amounts of cash. In fact, he probably couldn't even pay to get out. So police are certainly knowledgeable of that fact. He may, in fact, go to where he frequents. They have police, obviously, out in those areas, as well, because he needs money. That is obviously on his mind, because you can't get too far without that.

NGUYEN: And, of course, we want to caution you here, because be careful in what we talk about or how we describe that arm, because it's not known if Mr. Nichols, indeed, did go out that way, correct?

OSIAS: That's right. Absolutely. Absolutely not. But it's a could, and it could be completely unrelated. You know, it's difficult to say, right.

NGUYEN: It's something under investigation right now.

All right, CNN's Kimberly Osias in downtown Atlanta for us this morning.

Thank you, Kimberly.

HARRIS: Despite the day long search by police for the Honda Accord, it was a private citizen who spotted the reporter's car last night in the same parking garage where it had been carjacked. The director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation made this statement around midnight.


VERNON KEENAN, GBI DIRECTOR: About 90 minutes ago, the green Honda that we've had the nationwide lookout for was found here. A citizen who had seen the television newscast remembered the tag number and he was in the parking garage at the -- next to the bottom level. He saw the vehicle, remembered the tag number from the television broadcast and contacted law enforcement.

The Atlanta Police Department arrived here and confirmed it was the vehicle.

We came to the scene, brought in the GBI crime scene processing team and they have done an initial examination of the vehicle. They will carry it to Atlanta homicide office, where it'll be stored and there will be an additional search done tomorrow of the vehicle.

At this time, we do not know what vehicle the suspect is driving, and that's what we're attempting to find now.


HARRIS: Investigators say they have no idea what kind of vehicle, if any, Brian Nichols is driving now.

NGUYEN: What started as a typical drive to work for "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reporter Don O'Briant quickly turned terrifying. He came face-to-face with fugitive Brian Nichols just moments after Nichols allegedly shot and killed three people and wounded another.

Here O'Briant describes that violent chance encounter.


DON O'BRIANT, "ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION" REPORTER, CARJACKING VICTIM: Well, I was driving at work this morning and I went to the Centennial Garage to park, as I usually did, a little after 9:00. And an SUV pulled in right beside me. And a tall black guy gets out with no shirt on and asks for directions to Lenox Square. I take it he's in town for the basketball tournament, so I start giving him directions. And all of a sudden he pulls a gun and says, "Give me your keys."

And I don't give them to him.

And he says, "Give me the keys or I'll kill you."

I gave him the keys. He opens the trunk and says, "Get in the trunk."

And I said, "No."

And he said, "I'm going to shoot you if you don't get in the trunk."

And so I start to move away and he hits me with the gun and I fall down. And then I start scrambling up and get to Marietta Street to try to find help. And he's not following me, so I figure I'm in the clear.

And when I get to the next corner, I ran into Drew Jubera, one of our reporters, who says there's been a -- the same guy hijacked a lady's car at this other garage and the police are asking her questions. So he takes me down there and I give them my statement and get some medical treatment and they bring me here.

QUESTION: So you were... QUESTION: What was your...


QUESTION: ... that other woman in the other garage?

O'BRIANT: No, she was hit first.

QUESTION: She was hit first and then came...

O'BRIANT: Yes. And I think he got her car and then he got another car, the SUV, after that, before he got to my garage.

QUESTION: What was your reaction once you found out?


O'BRIANT: What was going through my mind?

QUESTION: What was your reaction once you found out the scope of this whole thing?

O'BRIANT: I was even more horrified. I thought this was a routine carjacking where if I gave him the keys, he would take the car and leave. But I had no idea he had already killed somebody.

QUESTION: Was it your car he has now, the green Honda...

O'BRIANT: Yes. The green Honda, a '97 Honda.

QUESTION: What have you told police so far about the car, about your experience?

O'BRIANT: I told just them what had happened and what -- gave as good a description of the car as I could. It's just like every other Honda, unfortunately.

QUESTION: But this Honda is now at the center, at the -- is the focus of this huge search that is going on.

O'BRIANT: Yes. I wanted a new car, but this is not the way I wanted to get it.

QUESTION: Explain to folks what was kind of going through your mind when was ordering you in the trunk and why you refused to go.

O'BRIANT: Well, first of all, I was lucky. I had thrown so much stuff in the trunk, I couldn't get in anyway. But I knew that it would not be a good outcome if I got in the trunk.

QUESTION: Why do you think he did not fire that gun?

O'BRIANT: I think he was out of bullets. I hope. But I was just thinking, as the gun is in your face you start thinking how can I get out of this alive? And finally I decided that I would be better off being shot at on the run than standing there and executed. And so that's what I did.

QUESTION: Don, you've -- have you heard all the events of the day from early on?

O'BRIANT: No, I haven't.

QUESTION: About the judge and...

O'BRIANT: I did hear about the judge and the deputy and the court reporter.

QUESTION: How do you put all this together in your life and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

O'BRIANT: Well, I just -- I think I'm extremely lucky to escape without being shot or thrown into the trunk.

QUESTION: My apologizes.

Obviously, you're reporting on this kind of stuff, not being involved in it...

O'BRIANT: Well, I usually write about books and media. This is kind of out of my beat here. But I am going to have something in the in paper tomorrow about it, a first person thing.

QUESTION: Tell us about your injuries. Obviously, we can see the bruises and the cuts on your face.

O'BRIANT: Well, I think there's 15 stitches in my, the cut over my eye where he hit me. And then when I fell I broke my wrist, and it's going to have to have surgery maybe next week or so.

QUESTION: How is your family doing right now?

O'BRIANT: Oh, everybody was very good. Everybody was at the hospital today. I think they, they can't believe it. It seems like something out of a movie.


NGUYEN: Nichols apparently changed his mind about taking O'Briant's car, because last night someone noticed that 1997 green Honda Accord. It was still in the parking deck. And, as was mentioned, O'Briant is a reporter for the "Atlanta Journal Constitution." We have the front page of that paper this morning, where it says, "Frontline: Killer Eludes Cops -- Judge, Two Others Slain." And below the fold you see the pictures of the three people killed in that shooting -- Judge Rowland Barnes; Julie Ann Brandau, who was a court reporter; and a sheriff's deputy, Sergeant Hoyt Teasley, all killed in that shooting.

HARRIS: And, Betty, also in this edition of the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" is Don O'Briant's first person account, much of it you heard there, of what happened to him yesterday. Fifteen stitches. He was pistol-whipped. You can see the bruises, you can see the cutting. Fifteen stitches. He fell trying to make his getaway, broke his wrist. That'll need to be reset surgically. He's going to have that done next week.

He mentioned that he thought it was just a routine carjacking.

How telling is that, that he would call it a routine carjacking, and we absolutely understand what he means by that.

NGUYEN: What he meant.

HARRIS: He meant that in most carjackings, what the person wants, what the assailant wants, is the car. They certainly don't want to kill you, in most of these cases. But this was a case where the assailant, he thought, just wanted the car and then he realized that it was much more serious later in the day, of course.

NGUYEN: And he also talked in that article about the fact that Mr. Nichols wanted him to get inside the trunk.


NGUYEN: But O'Briant said no, I can't get inside the trunk, it's too full. There's too much junk in there, which could have possibly saved his life.

HARRIS: What's telling about that is that law enforcement officials will tell you time and time again, over and over again, you need to save your life at that moment. If you get into the trunk, who knows what could happen? Chances are you're not going to come out of it alive.

NGUYEN: The chances go down. Absolutely.

HARRIS: But you need to save your life at that moment. Somewhere along the line, whether intuitively or he had heard the advice, he followed it, and he came away with his life.

NGUYEN: He's here to tell his story. Yes, absolutely.

Of course, we have much more coverage this morning. We're going to be on the air for quite some time today.

Armed and dangerous -- also desperate.

HARRIS: But just who is Brian Nichols? And why was he in court in the first place?

We'll continue our coverage of this developing story.

NGUYEN: But while that story continues to garb attention here in the U.S., there are some significant developments out of Syria this morning. We have those details when we come back.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, I'm Rob Marciano in the CNN Weather Center.

Time now for the old cold and flu report, as reported from the CDC here in Atlanta.

Twenty-four states now reporting widespread activity. The numbers are beginning to drop now as we head two weeks past the prime time for the flu season. So, we'll begin to see less and less red and blue on the map, and that's good news as spring and the warmer weather starts to arrive.

Hope you're feeling well today and enjoy your weekend.


HARRIS: Well, as you know, we are closely following the massive manhunt for the courthouse shooter in Atlanta. But there is other news this morning, including some rather major developments in Syria this morning.

For the details, let's check in now with Anand Naidoo at the CNN International Desk -- Anand.


And you're right, there's some major developments coming out of the Middle East this morning to tell you about.

The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is holding a high level meeting with the special United Nations envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, in the Syrian town of Aleppo. And here's what we're hearing right now. Assad has given Larsen the assurance that all Syrian military units will be withdrawn from Lebanon. That's one of the demands being made on Syria by the United States, European countries and some Arab states, as well. Larsen says he will present details of that timetable for the pullout to the U.N. secretary general.

Now, we have no details of the timetable for that pullout, but let me remind you that it was only last week that Syria moved, redeployed some of its troops, some of its 14,000 troops in Lebanon to the eastern Bekaa Valley. And in the second part of that redeployment, it said that it would move them to the border area. But now it's saying that it's going to take them right out of Lebanon.

So, obviously this is a significant development. We'll bring you details as we get it here at CNN through the day.

For now, though, let me send it back to Tony and Betty.

HARRIS: OK, and Anand, thank you.

Appreciate it.

NGUYEN: And as you know, a manhunt is underway here in Atlanta.

We want to update you on the top story this morning, the search for a killer. So just how did the Atlanta courtroom shooting suspect manage to get away? Here's what police say they know so far.

After a shooting rampage, Brian Nichols carjacked a Honda Accord. But police spent 15 hours looking for that car, only to find that it never left the parking garage. Now, security camera footage that you see here, which was obtained exclusively by CNN, shows the man wanted for killing three people walking down a parking garage stairwell, putting on a jacket believed to be the jacket from the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reporter who owned that Honda Accord.

Right now, no one has any idea whether Nichols drove another car out of the garage or if he took off on foot.

HARRIS: As the hunt for triple murder suspect Brian Nichols continues at this hour, praise is rolling in for the judge killed in that Atlanta courthouse.

NGUYEN: His story, when we return on this special edition of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


NGUYEN: Judge Rowland Barnes is being remembered at his alma mater, Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania.

Now, Barnes majored in economics at Lebanon Valley, where he was backup quarterback on the school's football team. He graduated in 1962. People will remember him as a personable man.


GREG STANSON, FRIEND OF JUDGE BARNES: It's absolutely tragic for me. I just, I can't tell you the shock. It's just overwhelming for me.

A great sense of humor and he was a good guy. Everybody liked him.

And then I was amazed to hear it from the media this morning, all the defense attorneys that spoke about how fair and honest and funny he was. That was Rowland Barnes.


NGUYEN: While he was in school, Barnes helped raise money for a memorial after a fellow football player was fatally injured during a game.

And for many people here in Atlanta, that courthouse shooting was very personal. Those who knew Judge Barnes are remembering him as a giant in the legal community who sought fairness in his decisions.

Here's CNN's Paula Zahn.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) JUDGE ROLAND BARNES: Is there anyone here in court for a case whose name I did not call?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A voice that will never be heard again. Judge Roland Barnes was 64. He came up through the ranks, a hard working magistrate and city court judge in Atlanta suburbs, before becoming a Superior Court judge in 1998. He had a reputation of cutting through red tape and having good relations with reporters, co-workers and lawyers.

Attorney B.J. Bernstein knew Judge Barnes well.

B.J. BERNSTEIN, ATTORNEY: A really wonderful judge. This, you know, sometimes we hear the reputations of judges having tantrums or being very strict. He was somebody who handled himself where both parties got to have a say. Whichever side you were on, you got to be able to say your points, and then he made a decision. And usually it was a fair one.

ZAHN: Some of his decisions were controversial. When a mother of seven children pleaded guilty in the beating death of her newborn daughter, Judge Barnes allowed the woman to avoid jail time in return for her agreeing to be sterilized. Just last month, Judge Barnes handled the case of Atlanta's popular hockey star, Danny Heatley, whose car was allegedly going 90 miles an hour when it crashed, killing a teammate. The dead man's family urged Judge Barnes to keep Heatley out of jail and not destroy his professional hockey career. Judge Barnes listened and gave Heatley probation.


HARRIS: The suspect in the courthouse shooting has relatives in Baltimore. Some say they're shocked and stunned that Brian Nichols is linked to the terrible violence in Atlanta.

A cousin who used to baby-sit Nichols describes him as "normal, smart and lovable."


REGINALD SMALL, NICHOLS' COUSIN: A real normal kid, man, swinging from trees and just playing with his little toys and stuff. Never, never no problem. I don't even think I heard him raise his voice, you know? I've never seen him get mad.

We're sorry about the families. You know, my whole family, we send our sympathy out for the families that's involved and for his family, you know, his mother and father. I mean this is not, this is a terrible thing and we just don't know what to say about it. It's just not the -- that's not the person that we know. That's not the one that we love.


HARRIS: Other family members say they haven't seen Nichols in five or six years. Relatively few people in Atlanta had ever heard of Brian Nichols before yesterday's killing spree triggered a massive manhunt.

Here's what I've been able to find out about him from the people who have been dealing with him most recently.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to arrest him until we have him in custody.

HARRIS (voice-over): He's talking about Brian Nichols. Take a close look at this mug shot. Then listen to two jurors from the two Nichols' trials describe his eyes. First, a juror from this week's retrial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time when he just looked up, we saw him looking at our reactions. So it made us a little nervous and we always kind of looked the other way. HARRIS: Then this from a jury member in Nichols' first trial, which ended in a hung jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian Nichols was desperate to not be convicted of these crimes. So he ignored his own defense attorney and sat there and looked us all in the eye and told his story.

HARRIS: What was he on trial for?

PAUL HOWARD, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It involved a case that involved his ex-girlfriend. He broke into the ex-girlfriend's house. She was bound with duct tape. One of the things that he also brought in with him was a loaded machine gun. He -- he did, in fact, assault her. He repeatedly threatened her family. He repeatedly threatened her. And he repeatedly threatened her new boyfriend. So, we have no doubt that he is dangerous.

HARRIS: Nichols' own defense attorney saw how things were going for his client.

BARRY HAZEN, ATTORNEY FOR NICHOLS: I don't think it was going very well. And I thought that they had -- they were presenting a much more muscular case than they had presented the first time.

GAYLE ABRAMSON, FULTON COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I do think that, in his mind, he knew he was going to be convicted this time. And so I think that he was just seeking revenge to the criminal justice system.

HARRIS: It was, for Brian Nichols, his first serious brush with the law. The charges had been brought by the woman with whom he'd had a seven year relationship. She had even bought a condo for him to live in.

Thirty-three years old, Nichols is a big man, once a linebacker for his college football team. He had worked most recently as a computer technician for a division of UPS. HAZEN: I didn't get the sense that he could be violent until Thursday morning, when we were told by Judge Barnes that Mr. Nichols had secreted two metal objects in his shoes.

HARRIS: But Barry Hazen, who was late to court this morning, says the talk of security was apparently just that.

HAZEN: After Judge Barnes said there would be beefed up security in the courtroom, there was one additional female deputy in the courtroom. That was all.

HARRIS: And what about the judge? Was there anything that could have provoked Nichols? Barry Hazen says Nichols is very, very smart. And one more thing.

HAZEN: He's not my client anymore.


HARRIS: Remember a couple of things here. This is the second trial that we're talking about here for Brian Nichols...

NGUYEN: The first one was an acquittal.

HARRIS: ... in the first trial.

NGUYEN: I'm sorry, the first one was a hung jury.

HARRIS: In the first trial, there was a hung jury.

NGUYEN: Right.

HARRIS: The foreperson of that jury told me that they were leaning 9-3 to acquit Nichols in the first trial.

You heard D.A. Abramson talk about revenge against the criminal justice system. This is a man who may have been upset that he was being, in his eyes, dragged back through the system again. He may have thought that after the hung jury the case was over, he would walk and he would be free. He was being brought back into the system again. The retrial was ordered by the D.A. and the judge to start almost immediately and it looked as though the prosecutor in this case, in the second trial, was mounting a far more aggressive, far more, as you heard, muscular case and that it was beginning to look, to many court observers, as though he would be convicted the second time around.

NGUYEN: The thing that strikes me about this, that there were red flags -- the shanks found in his shoes...

HARRIS: Sure. Sure.

NGUYEN: ... the judge saying that we need some extra security and, of course, the shooting that happened.

HARRIS: OK. These are the first pictures. We want to show them to you again, we'll show them to you often today -- of a suspect on the run. New images from Turner Security cameras provide a clear view of Brian Nichols.

He is wanted for killing a judge, a court reporter and a sheriff's deputy in downtown Atlanta yesterday morning.

The video was recorded in the parking garage where newspaper reporter Don O'Briant was pistol-whipped and carjacked.

Police initially thought the suspect had used the carjacked Honda, O'Briant's Honda, to get away. But it was later found in that same parking garage.

NGUYEN: Questions about security at the courthouse, well, they are being discussed this morning, especially since word comes, as we just talked about, Judge Barnes expressed concern about the dangerous suspect. We'll take a look at courthouse security next on this special edition of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The top 25 business leaders who've changed the world of business during CNN's first 25 years. We asked the writers of "Fortune" magazine to compile a list. Here are numbers five through two.

Number five, Lee Iacocca, Chrysler's celebrity former CEO. He starred more than 60 commercials, wrote a best-selling book and still managed to save Chrysler from bankruptcy.

At number four, Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the most successful investor in America, amassing a $40 billion fortune.

WARREN BUFFETT, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: If I find a business that I understand that's selling for less than it's worth, I'll buy it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jack Welch lights up number three as the managerial genius behind General Electric. G.E. was the house that Jack built, by cutting costs and focusing on quality and accountability.

At number two, Sam Walton, the late founder of Wal-Mart. He built the largest retailer in the country. Wal-Mart brought low prices to small town America and is now the nation's largest private employer.

Stay tuned as we count down to number one.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: OK, right there on your screen you see a couple of numbers, police tip lines. If you have any information, any information at all leading to Nichols' capture, these are the numbers to call -- 404-730-7982 and 1-888-6-FULTON. That's 1-888-638-5866.

And let me just mention this, because Atlanta police have mentioned this to us and we want to pass along any information that we have to you at 7:34 Eastern and 4:34 in the West. If you are missing a loved one, if a loved one has not shown up where he or she was expected to be at this time, Atlanta police would like to know about that. Use those numbers on your screen to call in any missing person information, as well.

NGUYEN: The shooting rampage has sparked a lot of concern over courthouse security, namely, are judges, prosecutors and other courthouse staffers safe from the people on trial?

Our Randi Kaye has more on this.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Judge Henry Newkirk has been working at the Fulton County Courthouse for more than two decades. He was a friend of Judge Roland Barnes. The two were sworn in together.

(on camera): Do you feel like security here is enough?

JUDGE HENRY NEWKIRK: I feel that in the last 23 years that I've been here, security has been adequate. You know, it's not the best and the tightest. I'm not saying we couldn't do a better job. But I think it's a balancing act.

KAYE (voice-over): Judge Newkirk would not go into detail about what he thinks needs to be improved here, but he did talk about security measures now in place.

NEWKIRK: For a citizen, a juror, courthouse employees, they enter one of three entrances and go through a metal detector. And all baggage, all personal belongings that are in briefcases, are examined through an X-ray machine, much like at the airports.

KAYE: There are two sides to the courthouse, old and new. For all courtrooms, judges access secure parking underground and a private elevator to their floor. Judge Barnes' courtroom in the old court building has emergency alarm buttons and all the other security measures of the new courtroom, except one.

NEWKIRK: Our chamber doors are wired to be electronically controlled.

KAYE: Judge Barnes had no electronic key pad. The suspect allegedly went through the judge's chambers to get into the courtroom.

DENNIS SCHEIB, FRIEND OF SLAIN JUDGE: Bad security; just terrible, terrible security. And it's been going on for years NEWKIRK: Police officer turned attorney Dennis Scheib was in the courtroom next to Judge Barnes when the shooting happened. Fulton County Court was one of many around the country to beef up security after the Oklahoma City bombing. Still, on a scale of 1 to 10, Scheib gives security here a 1.

SCHEIB: This defendant, he took a gun, he shoots a deputy, he shoots a judge, he shoots a court reporter, and he goes outside and he shoots a deputy sheriff walking into the building. This should never have happened. But it just -- security has just been lax for years.

KAYE: But the head of the Fulton County Commission says judges feel safe, adding there will be a thorough review of security. Judge Newkirk says there is always at least one armed sheriffs deputy present during criminal cases. Fulton County deputies are the only law enforcement officers allowed to carry weapons in the courthouse.

NEWKIRK: I've always enjoyed having armed deputies in the courtroom with me.

KAYE: But should deputies carry guns in the courthouse? After all, that's how police say this suspect got his weapon. And where were deputies when the suspect fled down eight flights of stairs and out the building?

Judge Newkirk hopes his friend's death will expose the security flaws and get them fixed, fast.

NEWKIRK: It's always something in the back of my mind. You see it happening in other venues around the country, and I'm aware of it. I'm aware of the possibility of something like this happening. This is a worst case scenario.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


HARRIS: A worst case scenario. It is being called the largest manhunt in Georgia history.

NGUYEN: And it is...

HARRIS: And it is still underway at this hour. The latest on the search for Brian Nichols live next on this special edition of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


HARRIS: Suspected courthouse killer Brian Nichols is still on the run this morning. But police don't know how he's getting around. Police are reviewing surveillance tapes like this one, taken by CNN Turner Security cameras. It shows Nichols walking in the Atlanta parking garage where police thought he carjacked a green Honda Accord and used it as a getaway car. Police have discovered that car apparently never left the garage, which is near the Fulton County Courthouse and CNN. At this hour, police don't know where Nichols is. NGUYEN: So that means the suspect, 22 hours after the Atlanta courthouse shooting, could be just about anywhere.

Kimberly Osias joins us now live just across the street from the CNN Center, where that parking garage is, with the latest -- good morning, Kimberly.

OSIAS: Good morning to you, Betty, and Tony, as well.

I want to show you the headline of the "Atlanta Journal and Constitution," our local paper here. It reads: "Killer Eludes Cop: Judge and Two Others Slain." Obviously, he is still on the lam, 33- year-old Brian Nichols.

Now, the way this parking lot plays into everything, very critical because this is where he was last seen. This is where police last have a trace of Nichols. He was in this parking lot, where he allegedly pistol-whipped a reporter with this same newspaper. It wasn't the reporter that he wanted, it was actually his car. But that didn't -- that wasn't what he used to get away.

And anyway, let me just actually, if we can show you some of that surveillance video that Tony spoke about earlier, critical video. Police are actually looking at that video right now, hoping to get some fresh new leads in this case. Very, very important because this man is still out there. He is armed. He is dangerous and he needs money.

And if you can tell, he actually has a jacket on. I was talking about that reporter with the "AJC," the "Atlanta Journal and Constitution." He perhaps put that jacket on. You can tell it doesn't actually fit him and clearly Nichols does not have a shirt on underneath.

We are actually on the third floor here. I went down the stairs one floor down, on the second floor, is actually where we -- this surveillance video from CNN security was taken.

Now, he actually went out, he stopped. Clearly he was deciding, pondering his next move, whether he would go up the stairs or go down. He decided to go down to that first level.

Now, in that level -- I went down there. You could see sort of one dome light camera. Now, the critical part of that dome camera is that you could easily sort of shirk getting caught on it. Perhaps if he like sort of hugged the side of the cement area, he could have done that.

Now, police don't know what he did, if he went on foot or actually if he sort of hotwired another car and left.

Now, the arm, the sort of wooden arm, is broken on the end there, on the tail end of it. Now, whether it's related or not, we don't know.

A very, very busy time here in Atlanta. The SCC basketball tournament is going on. So of course there was high traffic during that time.

Again, police believe that he may have gone back to his frequent haunts, but they don't know that for sure. They have certainly posted people out there to be on a lookout. What is called, in sort of police parlance, a BOLO all over the nation for this manhunt -- Betty, Tony.

NGUYEN: Kimberly, it's not known exactly how he left that parking garage. We see the video of him going out through level one, but we don't know if he left on foot or by car.

OSIAS: Right.

NGUYEN: You mentioned the gate. We don't know if that's related. But there is something that we do know, and that's after all of the search for this 1997 Honda Accord, it was a private citizen, not police, that found it.

OSIAS: Yes. That's exactly right, Betty. It is believed that that individual worked here in the parking lot. Now, interestingly, they didn't notice that this was the area where the car was. Of course, it was right under their noses and they didn't notice it until late Friday night. Why they didn't search here, who knows? I mean certainly not to ascribe any kind of guilt to authorities. Obviously, they are working 24-7 on this.

But it is rather unusual that they didn't, perhaps, look in this area.

NGUYEN: So a lot of questions being asked this morning.

Kimberly Osias in downtown Atlanta, thank you for that report.

HARRIS: We're going to take a break now and come back with more of our extended coverage of the manhunt for Brian Nichols. And when we do, Kimberly mentioned the article in this morning's "Atlanta Journal Constitution." It is a first person account by Don O'Briant, a reporter for the "AJC" who was pistol-whipped and carjacked, allegedly by Brian Nichols. We'll read a portion of that first person account when CNN SATURDAY MORNING returns.


HARRIS: The hunt for the suspect in the Atlanta courthouse shooting rampage continues this morning, and CNN will bring you the latest.

But first, here are some other stories we're following.

Word coming in from Syria this morning a U.N. envoy has met with President Bashar Assad and he says Assad is committed to a full Syrian troop pullout from Lebanon. The envoy says he expects Syria to present a timetable in the next few days.

In Iraq, a U.S. soldier has been killed in what the military calls a non-hostile accident. It happened in the western province of Al Anbar. The military says the soldier died during a security operation, but did not give any more details.

And finally, all you college hopefuls, get ready. The newly redesigned SAT debuts today. The test is 45 minutes longer and, for the first time, features an essay question.

NGUYEN: Oh, goody. I'm sure they're excited about that.


NGUYEN: All right, we want to go to our top story, the latest on Brian Nichols, the suspected killer of three people in an Atlanta courthouse.

A massive, multi-state manhunt is underway for Nichols. Meanwhile, the 1997 Honda Accord police thought Nichols used in his getaway has been found in the same garage where it was thought to have been carjacked from a newspaper reporter.

Now, these pictures were exclusively obtained by CNN. They were recorded by security cameras in that parking garage and they show Nichols leaving level two of the garage, putting on a jacket.

HARRIS: We are continuing to try to bring you the very latest on this story. We can tell you that the reward now stands at $60,000 for the capture of the triple murder suspect. An update on the search for 33-year-old Brian Nichols when we come back.

NGUYEN: Plus, the headlines tell the story. Here it is. A look at the Atlanta newspaper's coverage of what authorities call the largest manhunt in Georgia history.


HARRIS: The latest now on the search for a man wanted for killing a judge, a court reporter and a deputy in Atlanta. Security camera photos of 33-year-old Brian Nichols show him casually strolling out of a parking garage at 9:30 Friday morning. But what we don't know is where he went next.

Later, a wooden security gate in that garage was found broken. But there's nothing linking that damage to Nichols at this time. Police were dealt a setback when they discovered 15 hours later that the Honda Accord Nichols carjacked never left the garage.

NGUYEN: And that car was taken from an "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reporter.

We have the paper this morning, the front page, which reads: "Killer Eludes Cops: Judge, Two Others Slain." And in this paper, that reporter has a first hand account of what happened when he was carjacked.

HARRIS: Yes, Betty, his name is Don O'Briant. And he was pistol-whipped. Fifteen stitches along his head and his forehead. And you'll see pictures of him in just a moment. But this is his first hand account of what happened. And we -- there's -- the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," for those who are not in the Atlanta area, you can also pull it up at, and you can read the account online.

Here's what it says: "It's funny how your mind goes through all these scenarios. How am I going to get out of this? Do I run now? Do I talk to him? Is he going to shoot me and leave me lying here? When it was going on, I thought I was just involved in a routine carjacking. I had no idea he'd just killed people. I didn't learn about all of that until I was being treated at the hospital later in the day.

Maybe because it was so quick, your whole life doesn't flash before your eyes. I guess it just wasn't my day to die. I had just parked my car in the parking lot behind the Chinese restaurant at the corner of Spring Street and Marietta Street. I was going to work a little after 9:00 a.m."

Betty, why don't you pick it up from there?

NGUYEN: And he also says that: "It just seemed so surreal. I was thinking this doesn't happen in real life. Your first emotion is one of disbelief, followed quickly by sheer terror and trying to figure out how to get away without being shot. But I figured it was better to be shot at while I was running than to just stand there and be executed."

And he goes on to talk more about exactly what happened in that encounter. But he mentions that it was a good thing that he did not get inside the trunk of his car, because that is what he says Nichols asked him to do, get inside the trunk. But there was too much junk, as he puts it, in the trunk, and he was fearful, of course, that once you get inside the trunk of a car, your chances of survival can diminish very quickly.

HARRIS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And finally, he said: "I am extremely lucky."

He sure is.

NGUYEN: You want to stay right here with CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

We have the latest on this manhunt out of Atlanta today.

HARRIS: We'll take a break and come right back.



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