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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Brian Nichols In Custody; Pressconference With Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters
Aired March 12, 2005 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now the only time we had a chance to see Brian Nichols since yesterday -- well, we saw him obviously today when he was arrested and led into the FBI field office. But we got a glimpse of him last night, because a number of car jackings had taken place, once Brian Nichols fled the courthouse. He had car jacked an SUV, then he had car jacked another man in a tow truck and then he found -- came across an AJC reporter, an "Atlanta Journal- Constitution" reporter, Don O'Bryant. He was driving or getting ready to get into his green Honda. At this point, this man, Brian Nichols, pistol-whipped him, told him to give me the keys or I'll kill you. Even told the reporter to get into the trunk of the car but Don O'Bryant said "no way." So Brian Nichols took the gun, pistol whipped him, took off in the green Accord. That's when Turner security captured the car and then later in the night, it was relieved -- actually, into the morning, it was after midnight, Turner security brought us this videotape of the suspect, Brian Nichols, leaving the parking lot here close to CNN. So it turned out he never left the parking lot. After he car jacked that green Honda, he left the car and then this video turned up later. Now Kimberly Osias has been working this angle since that time in the morning from when he left the car to leaving the parking lot and this video surfaced. She put together this report for us not long ago.
OSIAS (voice-over): Here, you see the suspect, caught on surveillance video, time, 9:30 am, Friday morning, 30 minutes after the shooting rampage took place, 33-year-old Brian Nichols, shown here, in exclusive CNN video in the second floor stairwell. He stops and ponders his next move. Where to go, up or down? He heads to ground level out of camera's view and out of police sight. Surprisingly, it takes authorities until late Friday night to actually find the green '97 Honda Accord. All the while, it's right under their noses, in the very same place where Nichols left. Authorities have issued a nationwide bolo. That's police parlance for be on the lookout for Nichols, who's believed to be armed and dangerous.
VERNON KEENAN, GBI DIRECTOR: The message to the public is this. We're no longer hunting for the green Honda Accord. We found that with citizens' help and we very much need the continued assistance of the public in reporting any sighting of him or any information they may have.
OSIAS: The whole nightmare unfolded Friday morning when Nichols was scheduled to appear for a retrial, charges, rape and aggravated sodomy. The 200-pound former linebacker overpowered the sole female deputy, grabbed her gun and could have made a clean break, but Nichols was a man on a mission, walking through a cross walk into the old courthouse. It was there where he shot and killed Judge Rowland Barnes and court reporter Julie Ann Brandau, down eight flights of stairs and outside again. Nichols fires, killing another deputy, Hoyt Teasley.
CHIEF RICHARD PENNINGTON, ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT: This manhunt will continue until he is apprehended.
PHILLIPS: Live pictures right now. I'm sorry, we have to break away from that piece that Kimberly Osias was bringing to us, just for a moment to show you these live pictures. You are seeing, once again, Brian Nichols, the suspect, being led out of the FBI field office there in Decatur, Georgia where he was being fingerprinted and booked. He's now in Federal custody. Brian Nichols, the suspect, back in this SUV here, with authorities. Gary Tuchman on the ground, not far from the vehicle. Gary, first of all, can you hear me? Are you close to the vehicle? Can you bring us up to date on where he may be going now?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, I'm standing 50 yards from the vehicle and two minutes ago, Brian Nichols came out, escorted by the same agents who brought him in. They brought him into the vehicle and they did not lie to us, the FBI agents. They said he would be here a short time, no questioning, just getting fingerprinted, getting booked and he will now be brought to an undisclosed detention center in the Atlanta area. He was inside for one hour.
I can tell you that, when he came in, there was elaborate security, 20 or 30 FBI, ATF, Fulton County sheriff's agents, many in fatigues, holding rifles and guns in his direction. They seemed to be at ease as he came out. We don't see nearly as much security as they came out and perhaps they're greatly relieved that he came in without any incident and they didn't feel they need to have such tight security coming out. So there are fewer people here. There are still lots of agents, but not as many as when he came in one hour ago. Once again, Brian Nichols under arrest after this murder spree, allegedly, four murders it appears and that will likely ultimately be the charges against him. It isn't official yet. That is a process which we still have to watch.
But he is being led out right now past where we're standing. There's a Dekalb (ph) County, that's the county where a police car leads the procession. Then there's two unmarked cars behind it and then the Chevy that he is in is about to come about, 20 feet away from where I'm standing right now. We're standing behind a fence and the car is right next to us right now and two cars behind it but we don't know where he's going. A news conference is scheduled 25 minutes now here at this FBI facility to give us more details about the case. But the FBI is telling us, as of now, he will stay in Federal custody, Brian Nichols, about 28 hours after this incident began, under arrest, being taken to a detention facility.
PHILLIPS: Gary, it's a pretty remarkable picture. You know, normally when you see a procession like this, it's the president of the United States. Now, look at this. You know, you've got the SWAT vehicles. You've got the FBI. You've got Dekalb County leading the procession. Look at all the people cheering. That is just incredible. All the people that have shown up just to cheer on law enforcement, after Brian Nichols was finally arrested and taken into custody. Brian Nichols, the suspect, now, police believe, guilty of four murders, in that black Chevy there, in the middle of this procession. Intense security, headed Gary, as you said, to a detention center in an unknown location. Is that right?
TUCHMAN: Right. I asked the Federal agent if it will be a Federal detention facility in the Atlanta area, because we really don't have one. It could be a local or state facility which is not telling you where it is right now. But he'll still be under Federal custody. You're talking about the applause going on for the police.
I will tell you -- we have to tell on the news, the good and the bad and the fact is, there was the debacle yesterday, in terms, the whole United States looking for a green Honda all day long. The whole time that Honda was in a parking garage where it was taken from and no one bothered to look. That is one of the most unbelievable things, that you had people wasting their time looking for this green Honda when the whole time it was in the parking garage. So there's some work that wasn't so great, too. And the fact was, it appears that someone who lived in this apartment complex tipped police. They captured him safely. That's great work that there were no gunshots fired, no additional blood. That's amazing work. But there were some things that happened yesterday, including what happened in the courthouse with the security, that wasn't so good.
PHILLIPS: Gary, you know that so many of us park in that parking lot, a number of employees here, and at the "AJC" and the surrounding businesses here in the area. You would have just thought that that entire parking lot would have been cleared, would have been secured, no matter what. Witnesses say that they saw that green Honda leaving the parking lot. Well, that's all good, and there could be an alert put out. But that parking lot -- well put. It should have been completely checked out.
So that's interesting to see, you know, just the talk -- I mean, Gary, even going back to the beginning of this case and the concern over security about the suspect, at the courthouse. The DA, the assistant DA, knew he was violent, knew he had brought in two sort of makeshift knives into the courtroom just a week before he came into the courtroom again. A lot of attention focused on security in the courtroom, to how even the search has carried on to find this man. And I guess the best news is that he gave himself up to police, not firing a shot. There was no gunfire exchanged. He -- do we know if he was negotiated out of that apartment Gary? Do we know?
TUCHMAN: That was the details we hoped to find out at 1:30 p.m. news conference. I can tell you what we do know at this point is that there was a woman who lived there who saw a man of this description. I mean certainly we've been doing our job, all the media's been doing their job, broadcasting this guy's picture perpetually, since basically 9:00 yesterday morning Eastern time. And she recognized him from the pictures, that I think that this is the guy who is living in my apartment complex. And this is an area about 20 miles northeast of the city of Atlanta, 20 miles northeast of where this happened in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in a town called Duluth. It was in apartment complex there.
And the police got to the scene, found out and as far as the operational details, how they captured him, we hope to find that out very shortly, so very good work today. But I will tell you, by any account yesterday, there were a lot of mistakes made. And it's funny Kyra, I'm sure you told our viewers that this parking garage is right across the street from CNN center where you and I work. And last night about 30 minutes before they found the car, I'm not a police officer, but I'm in the parking garage, the CNN parking garage, literally right next door to this other parking garage. And I'm going through the parking garage looking for Hondas, looking for license plates.
And I actually know very little about police work except what I've covered over the last 24 years and you would think, why wouldn't they go through that garage? How much time was wasted? How many people out there in the United States are looking for Hondas, maybe endangering themselves, trying to help out are and there is no one looking in the garage? It's just incredible.
PHILLIPS: Well, Gary, it's pretty scary to think, just walking out from work yesterday, he could have been in the same parking lot that we were, you know, walking through and walking to our cars to go home. And then finding out that he's still been in the area, not even that far from where the shootings took place at the courthouse. He didn't even try to leave the city, which is interesting. Now, you made an interesting comment about the woman that called from the apartment complex. She said she believed he lived in that apartment complex so it's very possible that he just went home?
TUCHMAN: No, no, if I said that, I made a mistake. She said she just saw him in the apartment complex. She did not recognize him from before. She saw a man who matched the description of the picture at the apartment complex.
PHILLIPS: Gary, when he was finally released, we heard all the people around the field office there, the FBI field office in Decatur, we heard everybody cheering as he was coming in and all the police officers and various law enforcement officials were coming in. What about when he came out and when he left, was it the same type of energy?
TUCHMAN: More applause and this is applause for two reasons, for a good job capturing him safely and applause of relief. You know, the people here in Atlanta -- yesterday was a very strange day in this city. Because, you know, I used to live in New York City and Chicago. Those are much bigger cities where you feel a little more anonymous. When something's horrible happening, someone's on the lose, you may feel a tiny bit more secure. But Atlanta's not as big of a city. And there are a lot of people here - including you and I both live here -- including friends of mine who were afraid to let their children out of the house when they got home from school yesterday and were afraid to go shopping and were afraid to go to restaurants last night. How long that would have continued, I don't know. But that applause you heard, a great deal of that was generated by the relief of this man's capture.
PHILLIPS: Well, Gary, you make a good point. And I feel you on that point because he was living in the apartment complex in my neighborhood. I mean, just, you know, a few blocks away. And that was the talk in my neighborhood. All of my neighbors were worried he was going to come back to the same area. The police actually in that area had surrounded a couple business areas where they found a green Honda. There was a lot of activity last night. And then to find out that that Federal agent, that immigration and customs enforcement agent, was found dead on Lennox Road, once again that was about five minutes from the area where this suspect had been living for a number of years. So you're right, you -- we cover these sort of stories. We have to tell the world about individuals like Brian Nichols. But, boy, when it hits you in your hometown, I can tell you, I didn't sleep very well last night. You're constantly wondering where he is and if he's still in the area.
TUCHMAN: That's interesting, Kyra, because you and I both were in the Gulf during the war and most of the stories that we cover are big stories, are very far from where we live. And this is so unusual, to have a story where it's centered two blocks from where you work. The parking garage where the car is found is right across the street from where you work. So it is a very unusual scenario. Obviously we cover story the same way and no matter where we are, when something -- you know a great example is the sniper story.
It was just an incredible feeling in Washington where people wouldn't go out and they wouldn't -- they wouldn't walk and they didn't want to pump their gas and it was that kind of feeling here in Atlanta, yesterday. The difference was, is that unlike the snipers, who we had no idea who they were and what they might have looked like, we knew who this guy looked like. So you had people who were looking for a car with a license plate, turns out they shouldn't have never bothered even looking for. I then we're looking for that people with that kind of face. And that certainly could cause a lot of danger.
And I said this yesterday, at one point, it was so confusing with this whole car thing. At one point they said they were looking for a red Jeep. That was yesterday morning, just shortly after it happened. I'm driving to the downtown area to get to the story. I'm a proud owner of a red Jeep. I decide that was a real bad mistake based on the paranoia right now that is going on in this city right after this happened to drive a red Jeep close to this courthouse. I decided to turn it back, park in the CNN garage next to the garage where this car was ultimately found, ironically and then walking to the scene, which was several blocks. But that was the feeling in the city yesterday, very similar to what people were going through with the sniper.
PHILLIPS: Gary, I'm being told now that he's headed to city hall east. What could be -- what will take place at city hall east? Do you have any idea? Did any of the law enforcement officials tell you there at the field office, FBI field office?
TUCHMAN: Well, city hall east is an auxiliary city hall for the city of Atlanta. They have the main city hall downtown and then they have a place called city hall east for people that live in the eastern part of Atlanta to take care of city business and there's a detention facility near there. Is it a secure enough detention facility for a guy like this? I suppose if he ends up going there and they put him in detention there, they feel it is. But there's a detention facility near the city hall east.
PHILLIPS: Great, thanks for clarifying that for me. Gary Tuckman there at the field office where this suspect, Brian Nichols, had just been booked and fingerprinted. And just to recap quickly, Gary, thank you. Stand by with us. You're looking at a live picture right now, with that suspect now police believe responsible for four murders now a Federal connection. So he's in Federal custody. Three murders yesterday of a judge, a sheriff deputy and a court reporter. And now this morning, Brian Nichols is being linked to the murder of an immigration and customs enforcement agent. He's in Federal custody. He's headed to city hall east, possibly the detention center there. And you can see the entourage here, a number of Federal and local agents, taking him down to the detention center.
You can see, too, how the off ramp has been blocked and basically the highway has been cleared, so there are no problems and no issues about getting this suspect to where he needs to be for the next move. We are expecting two live news conferences. We're expecting an FBI news conference. We're expecting a Gwinnett County police news conference. That's where he, the suspect, Brian Nichols, turned himself in and we'll take those live as soon as they happen. Rudi.
RUDI BAKHTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. As we were watching that procession Kyra, on the way to city hall east, possibly the detention facility, as you mentioned, let's bring in Kathleen Koch. She's in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been talking to people there. That is where Brian Nichols was raised. Kathleen, can you hear me?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can. We are here in the Waverly neighborhood of Baltimore. It's a northeast neighborhood in Baltimore, of middle class, modest middle class brick homes. And this is, indeed, what you see behind me is the home where Brian Nichols lived from a young boy until he graduated from high school, from Cardinal Gibbons High School. We've spent the morning talking to a number people, friends, neighbors, some who didn't want to go on camera. And basically, the picture that they're painting is a young man who had every advantage growing up, had a very stable family life, was very popular in the neighborhood, very well liked, had never got into fights, was very respectful. One of his friends from high school said they played together on the high school football team. He was a well liked athlete. Also at college, at Cutstown University in Pennsylvania, also very, very popular with his classmates there. We did also earlier this morning catch up with Reginald Small, Brian Nichols' uncle who had a few word of condolences for the families of those killed in Atlanta. And said this is not the Brian Nichols who they knew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REGINALD SMALLS, BRIAN NICHOLS UNCLE: The only thing I can say is our hearts go out to the people in Georgia. I really mean that. We don't know how this could have happened or anything. Our hearts go out to them. And Brian is a nice young man as far as we know. I don't know what happened. That's all I can say, is that our hearts really go out to those people in Atlanta.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: Now Brian Nichols' parents we're told, at least his mother is in Africa now. When she lived in Baltimore, apparently worked for the IRS and we're being told she may be heading back to the U.S. as soon as next week. It's unclear where his father, Gene Nichols, now lives. As far as the law enforcement, obviously the law enforcement in Baltimore had been notified by authorities in Atlanta to be on the lookout for Brian Nichols. From everyone we spoke to here, family members, friends and neighbors, none of them had yet been contacted by law enforcement and obviously they're all extraordinary relieved that this is all over now. Back to you.
BAKHTIER: Kathleen, it seems the predominant theme you're coming across there is people are shocked. They can't believe that the person that they saw growing up in that neighborhood is the same person who murdered three people yesterday and possibly one more today. Any ideas, any theories, as to what happened?
KOCH: We've been asking people that all morning. And they can't come up with anything. One of his best friends, Brian Nichols' best friend, Charles Franklin who I spoke with, who is now a minister, who said they just -- they saw no signs, no warning signs at all. And he said, you just sometimes don't know what it is, what is that one straw that breaks a camel's back, the one thing that it takes to push a person over the edge. Everyone really, here, is in total shock.
BAKHTIER: Were people afraid yesterday when they heard about what happened? Were people in that neighborhood fearing for their lives?
KOCH: We asked people that question. And frankly, they said, since he had left here in 1990, is when the family moved out of this home here on Windamere Avenue, they really didn't expect him to come back to this area. And apparently, with his father not living here, with his mother out of the country, he would not have had any reason, at least they believe, to return. So no one was really fearing for their own lives, for their safety, but they were still very concerned about Brian, still cared about him, again, because he had such a wonderful personality, the boy who they remembered, and they all wanted this to end well.
BAKHTIER: Very interesting angle. Kathleen Koch, from Baltimore, Maryland where Brian Nichols grew up. Once again, we're looking at live pictures now of Brian Nichols, who was taken into custody at Bridge water apartments in Gwinnett County over an hour ago. He was then taken to the FBI field office in Atlanta where he was processed and now it looks like he's on the way to city hall east in downtown Atlanta, possibly to a detention facility. A big entourage as Kyra said earlier and a lot of security, they are not taking any chances this time around, right, Kyra? PHILLIPS: Isn't that the truth? And just to backtrack, Rudi, on why there is so -- we actually got a live picture here of the suspect. OK we just got -- no, it's not live. This is earlier today. I apologize. That was actually the first time I think, Rudi, that we saw a pretty tight front shot of the suspect, Brian Nichols, courtesy of our affiliate there WXIA. Now we're going back to the live picture of the entourage of the procession here of all the various law enforcement as the suspect, Brian Nichols, is being taken to city hall east, in Atlanta, Georgia where we believe he'll be put into a detention center here, Rudi making the point of all the security. Well, no doubt.
If you kind of backtrack to the background, going back to why this man was even in court yesterday, it was because of a rape case. Brian Nichols was accused of just a brutal rape with a woman that he had been dating for almost seven years. The first time around, during that trial, there was a hung jury. So yesterday, he was being retried. And he was headed to the courtroom. And that's where everything took place. There was a female deputy -- obviously, a lot smaller in size than this 210, 6'1" suspect on the way to the courthouse.
And at some point, Brian Nichols overcame that deputy, got her gun. She's now hospitalized we are told in critical condition. He headed into the courtroom, opened fire, killed the judge, killed the court reporter, fled the courthouse, killing another deputy who was pursuing him, trying to take down this suspect with a gun, that had already killed two people. He killed that deputy. And then the car jackings began and he was off. And the 26-hour man hunt continued.
And he was finally caught, just a couple hours ago, at a local apartment complex right here. The SWAT team, FBI SWAT team, called in, along with the SWAT team in Gwinnett and other law enforcement agents. He actually gave himself up. He gave himself up, was taken in by authorities. And now he is at city hall east, believed to be in a detention center there.
Now, let's go back to that rape case. Fulton County police, here in Atlanta, Georgia, was responsible for the man right here, Brian Nichols, and all these charges that you see concerning this initial rape case. The detective on that case was Wade Yates. We heard from one of the deputy chiefs at Fulton County not too long ago. We've finally been able to get detective Yates on the phone. Wade, I know you've been an extremely busy man since yesterday. I appreciate you calling in and giving us a chance to talk. I want to ask you about yesterday. But first of all, can I just ask you, how you're feeling right now, seeing your man, obviously, you were trying to convict this man on a rape case, how does it feel just to see him in custody and not on the loose?
WADE YATES, FULTON CO. POLICE DEPT: Well, I'm very relieved. And I'm glad they were a able to take him into custody for fear of what he might have done if he had continued on the run.
PHILLIPS: Now, Wade, take us back to the rape case and you were the detective assigned to it. You were in charge of that. It was a long process. Kind of get us -- give us an overview of this man and what you were dealing with, when this all began with that initial charge.
YATES: Well, Kyra, I have to talk in general terms, because, obviously, the case has not been adjudicated. We have a person who seemed to live a relatively normal life for the past six to seven years of his life. And suddenly changed, which brought about the charges that we had pending against him. And I think from the point of that change, until today, he basically remained the same person, the wild person that is accused of doing all these shootings in the courthouse.
PHILLIPS: We had talked about that yesterday, Wade, the initial case. We actually had talked to the foreman that was on the first trial, was a part of that jury. OK, we're going to -- Wade, stay with us because I've got more questions for you. Please hold on if you can.
We just want to take our viewers to the Gwinnett County news conference right now and listen in to what they have to say. As you know, it was here in Gwinnett County that he was -- it might not begin. So I'm going to sort of (INAUDIBLE) for a minute to see if indeed this does start. But Gwinnett County police department is about to hold a news conference because it is in Gwinnett County that Brian Nichols was found.
Why don't we do this? Emily, can we just kind of hold on that shot? Let's sit on that shot and let's bring detective Wade Yates back. Wade, while we wait for this presser at Gwinnett County police, let's talk about -- you mentioned Brian Nichols pretty much having a normal relationship with this woman for seven years. We had reported that yesterday. We had talked to this jury foreman who said the same thing, that even in the first trial, seemed like he had a credible story, seemed like a nice guy. His parents allegedly are diplomats. He came from a good family. What happened? What happened to this guy?
YATES: I don't know. At some point he just snapped. To comment on the credible story, I don't know that I agree with that he had a credible story. Obviously, I think our investigation was conclusive into the allegations that we brought against him. Obviously that particular jury didn't see it the same way and so we were in the process of retrying him. And I think that case was going well for the prosecution at that time. I was actually scheduled to take the stand as the first prosecution witness of the day Friday morning.
PHILLIPS: What were you getting ready to say, as you were heading to the courtroom to be that first witness, Wade? What were you about to tell the court, tell the judge, that unfortunately, lost his life yesterday? What were you getting ready to say about Nichols?
YATES: Well, I had to testify to the facts of my case and what I found at the scene and what I -- the facts I uncovered through interviews with witnesses, with the victim and the actual physical evidence.
PHILLIPS: Which was a pretty brutal rape, from what we understand.
YATES: To say the least, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Wow. All right so, Wade, you were headed to the courthouse and you didn't know that your man had opened fire yet, right? You had no idea what was going on.
YATES: That's correct. I was approaching the courthouse in my vehicle and noticed some commotion from a deputy who had been shot on the street. That's actually the first place that I went.
PHILLIPS: Did you go straight to the deputy?
YATES: Yes I did.
PHILLIPS: Did you try to save his life?
YATES: Kyra, there were already three other police officers on scene that were trying to assist him and at that point I spoke to a few witnesses, but had not put together yet that it was Brian Nichols that was responsible for it.
PHILLIPS: Wade, stay with us. We're going to go to that Gwinnett police department presser right now. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CHIEF CHARLES WALTERS, GWINNETT CO. POLICE: ...at approximately 9:15, our units responded to a call that a female stating that she was in the apartment with Brian Nichols who was wanted in connection with the shooting of the Fulton County sheriff's deputy and Superior Court judge and the court reporter.
She was able to get out of the apartment and called us at -- our SWAT team responded, they deployed. Our uniform folks were able to control the scene, kept him contained, shortly after the arrival of our SWAT team, Mr. Nichols surrendered to us, without incident. Right now, he is in FBI custody. They will -- they are ultimately going to be the lead investigative agency and will process him and deal with him as -- on a Federal level, rather than a state level. Basically, that's -- that's -- very frankly, it's a very pleasant -- this ended the best way it could end and there were no citizens were hurt, none of our police officers were hurt on the surrender, and we -- our SWAT team did a tremendous job and, once again, the public can be relieved that he is off the street. We've gotten a lot of calls and, again, this is -- this is the best way this particular incident could have ended.
QUESTION: Chief, we need more information on -- can you tell us everything you can about this -- did she escape? Was she allowed to leave?
WALTERS: And we're not really sure exactly if she was allowed to leave or if she escaped. She did leave the apartment and got away from him at some point. And again, we're - the FBI is debriefing her, been talking to her and that will come out later. QUESTION: Are you connecting Mr. Nichols to what happened on Lennox Road today?
WALTERS: I think something you need to talk to the FBI about. We -- very frankly, our role in this was to take him into custody and it was done so without incident and --
QUESTION: Was 911 called?
WALTERS: She called 911, yes.
QUESTION: Was the blue truck at the apartment complex --
WALTERS: I don't believe it was.
QUESTION: Can you explain why the time difference between, when he arrived overnight and when she called --
WALTERS: No, and that's going to have something to do with the dynamics between her -- between the victim and Mr. Nichols. I'm not sure why -- she may not have had the opportunity. I'd be guessing right this minute. She's being debriefed and I've not been privy to that.
QUESTION: Is it possible she was held hostage for some time?
WALTERS: It's possible.
QUESTION: ... time of the 911 call?
WALTERS: The truck was, yes. But I'm not sure of the exact location. I believe -- it was not at --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truck is at a different location.
WALTERS: The truck is at a different location.
QUESTION: Was he beat up? Did he have any wounds to his body? What was his condition?
WALTERS: There's nothing remarkable about his condition. I only say that because I've been notified. Certainly, the arrest was very, very peaceable. There was no resistance. He was taken into custody like any time when our SWAT team does a dynamic arrest like that.
QUESTION: You say there was a 911 call. Can you describe for us what you think of the actions of this woman, based on what you heard and the interaction between the dispatcher and this woman?
WALTERS: I've not listened to the call specifically. I do know that she was able to provide information. She was not panicked. She handled it very responsibly. And it -- very frankly, it was not a remarkable call. There was not a lot of panic or anything else. But she handled it -- she was a champ. She did the right thing and called us and was able to get out and give us information to allow us to have our uniformed folks cordon off the area and get our SWAT team in there. So she was not panicked. She's very responsible.
QUESTION: -- the call from?
WALTERS: I don't have it --
QUESTION: ... the call from.
WALTERS: No, I do not. It was a location away from the apartment.
QUESTION: You said that he waved a white flag or t-shirt. Was that from inside the apartment from a window?
WALTERS: Outside, yes.
QUESTION: Can you give us any other details, first floor or second
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was on the lower level.
WALTERS: Lower level.
QUESTION: -- taken into custody?
WALTERS: And I wasn't present in any of those statements -- we prefer to leave that for the investigation because there may have been things he said that may impact his prosecution later so --
QUESTION: Chief, was he watching TV or listening to the radio --
QUESTION: -- knew that the manpower was there?
WALTERS: Yes, he was watching television, we are told.
QUESTION: Did he have anything to say?
WALTERS: Like said, I'd rather not comment on that. Because, again, it could impact the prosecution later on.
QUESTION: How many officers did you have working this case?
WALTERS: We have a SWAT team - and again, other than this morning, we were not actively involved other than giving a lookout at roll calls and everything else. Our SWAT team was deployed. We had probably over 30 officers there. Any other time, just like any other time when we deploy a SWAT team, bottom line is, these situations come to a successful conclusion because you overpower them with force and make sure they understand there is no other alternative and that's exactly what happened today.
QUESTION: What time did he surrender --
QUESTION: -- anyone else there --
WALTERS: Can we hear from you about this morning (INAUDIBLE) and finding the (INAUDIBLE) agent, David Wilhelm?
VERNON KEENAN, GBI DIRECTOR: Well, this is -- as you well know, this is a very active and aggressive investigation. And we're here -- we're here now to talk about the arrest of Nichols. I'd like to say this. The Gwinnett County police department started out their regular work day on the alert as was the rest of American law enforcement on the lookout for Nichols. A regular 911 call comes in which is dispatched to one of their uniform officers to respond to the lady calling in who said she knew where Nichols was at, that he was at her apartment and that he had weapons. The officer went to scene, conducted initial investigation, determined that this was a credible report. And then the wheels of the law enforcement swung into action. The Gwinnett County SWAT team was activated. They went to the scene. They were able to, by sheer presence and force, to have him surrender. He surrendered in my assessment, because he was surrounded and he had nowhere to go. He was not getting out of that apartment with the SWAT team have him surrounded in the manner they did. It's also my assessment, from what I have determined thus far, that the lady who reported the call, she is doing everything she can to survive because she is with -- she's been confronted by a very, very dangerous man who has forced her into her apartment and that he is in there and when she is able to get away from him, she calls 911 and the SWAT team falls into action and that is the series of events.
QUESTION: Best you know there was no relationship that you know of --
KEENAN: We know of no relationship that there was -- she was a random victim --
QUESTION: -- parking lot or did break into her apartment?
KEENAN: She was in the process of going into her apartment.
QUESTION: At what time?
KEENAN: This is in the early morning hours.
QUESTION: Before this 911 call, Mr. Director, where were you guys with this investigation?
KEENAN: We had not -- we had no -- we had no vehicle description that we had for Nichols. As you know, we recovered the green Honda Accord last night. And from that point on, we did not know how he was traveling.
QUESTION: This 911 call came out of nowhere in your --
KEENAN: ... put this way, having been in law enforcement for 33 years, I was in the command post when the call came in from Gwinnett County PD dispatch saying they had a report. And that instinct kicked in and we knew that that had -- there was a basis for that. We started loading in the car to come up here and the Gwinnett County had the resources and they resolved it in the manner we've discussed.
QUESTION: What time was he taken into custody, roughly?
KEENAN: I believe it was 11:24.
QUESTION: The customs agent truck was not found --
KEENAN: The customs agent pickup truck was found in another location and there will be further information coming on that at the joint news conference which will be held later this afternoon.
QUESTION: Would you say there was a period of time when there was just one officer there checking the credibility of the call and then the SWAT team followed?
KEENAN: Well, the officer's on routine patrol. In fact, he told me, he's finishing an accident report, call comes in to go meet with the lady and find out what's happening. He went from there.
QUESTION: -- transpired between the time that officer arrived and backup came, do you know?
KEENAN: He determined pretty quick that the victim had credibility --
KEENAN: Several hours.
QUESTION: How was this woman able to get away? You said she was cooperating, can you expand on that?
KEENAN: That she's cooperating?
QUESTION: She's cooperating with Mr. Nichols.
KEENAN: It's my understanding that he had told her, if you do what I say, I won't kill you. So she is -- she's established a relationship to -- to survive.
QUESTION: He didn't harm her in any way --
KEENAN: but I'm not -- I cannot get into any further on details.
QUESTION: -- in the apartment, anything like that?
KEENAN: No, only ones there. The steps that are occurring now is that the GBI crime scene units are processing the pickup truck that was missing out of Atlanta in the death of the U.S. customs agent. The FBI evidence recovery teams are processing the apartment where Nichols was arrested at. And we're very much -- all the agencies coordinating and Gwinnett County police department, of course, is involved in all of this. There are crimes that have been committed here in Gwinnett County and we've been discussing with district attorney Danny Porter, who's been in contact with the Federal authorities about how this case, this case is going coordinated prosecution wise.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what type of firearms he had?
KEENAN: Not at this point, I can't.
QUESTION: -- he appeared to be operating, did this surprise you that this is the way it ended, him waving a white flag?
KEENAN: No, I think he waved a white flag because he was cornered and had nowhere else to go. That's why the surrender comes in. He looks out the window and he sees Gwinnett County SWAT team has got him surrounded and they are obviously there meaning business, very professional and absolutely prepared to handle whatever he wants to do. His choice then is either surrender or confront, have a confrontation with the police. He elected to surrender and that's why he's in custody -- we're here today, we just finished meeting with the Gwinnett County SWAT team, congratulating them on an excellent job. Because they started out, today being just a regular work day for them and the next thing, they're up to -- they're in a major, major case, dealing with a dangerous person so that's where we're at.
QUESTION: He was taken into custody 11:25. Approximately how long was it between the time the SWAT team got there and he surrendered?
WALTERS: It depends. The SWAT team gets deployed -- it's a relatively short amount of time. Obvious at 9:50, when the call came in, certainly, we were there within half an hour, 40 minutes so --
QUESTION: -- the officer, anyone else that handled the initial complaint?
WALTERS: His name is Bassett, Anthony Bassett.
WALTERS: Yes sir.
QUESTION: Do you know how Nichols made it to the apartment complex? Did he take another vehicle, that you know of?
KEENAN: No, he drove there in the truck.
QUESTION: But not the truck connected to the --
KEENAN: Yes, that -- there'll be further information coming out on the time line associated with that. I don't want to be in a position of talking off the top of my head. OK, thank you --
QUESTION: chief, one last thing. When you first came out here and spoke, you seemed a little bit emotional if I might say. Can you describe the emotions --
WALTERS: I'm extremely -- I'm unabashedly proud of our agency. And our folks showed a tremendous amount of restraint. This is tremendously emotional and hypercharged emotional situation where you've had -- aside from a juror -- and as you guys know from covering the news, policemen take it personal when a police officer is killed. And then now you have two. This is a -- just a tremendous example of professionalism that our folks in our SWAT team exhibited. And I can't be prouder of them. And it's really a tremendous, tremendous effort on their part to act like they did. I do want to take one second and I'd like to introduce Charles Bannister (ph), who's the chairman of the Gwinnett County commission, who would like to address if you wouldn't mind.
CHARLES BANNISTER, GWINNETT CO. COMMISSION: Thank you, chief. I just want to say that the people of Gwinnett County and the entire Atlanta region can now rest easier with the knowledge that this suspect from yesterday's horrible events in Fulton County has been apprehended. We're very proud of our fine men and women in the Gwinnett police department. They've undertaken this operation with great skill and professionalism. We not only think our own police force, those people here, but we think also those who were involved from other areas. It's with all of that coming together that this has come to an end, as it has. The Gwinnett County police department has the finest and most dedicated law enforcement professionals in the nation, we think, and the people of Gwinnett County should know that they protected by such a fine group of men and women. The crimes committed by this suspect have left numerous families and their loved ones with broken hearts. We want them to also know that the people in Gwinnett County's hearts go out to them. Thank you.
WALTERS: I do want to take an opportunity to introduce Major Skip Platt from the Fulton County sheriff's office, I'm sure, would like to address you folks and answer whatever questions he's able to do.
MAJOR SKIP PLATT: Thank you, chief. Major Skip Platt from the Fulton County sheriff's office. I came up here on behalf of Sheriff Myron Freeman for several reasons. When the subject was taken into custody, I wanted to eyeball him, make a positive ID, make sure that was the man. Secondarily, I wanted to thank Gwinnett County, particularly their SWATS team, for the excellent job they did. And then more generally, I want to thank all of law enforcement who played a significant part in apprehending this man. I've never seen such cooperation. Director Keenan said yesterday that this is probably one of the largest man hunts in Georgia history. I can't tell you how many agencies that were involved, and all played an important part. Again, thank you from Sheriff Myron Freeman and, chief, thank you.
QUESTION: How relieved are you by the ending of this?
PLATT: Well, I've been on -- just like all our folk, I've been on an adrenaline high or low, I'm not sure what it is, for well over 24 hours now. And it's very gratifying to have it over with. We were afraid this man would continue to do these acts and it's very important that he was taken off the streets.
QUESTION: What were your thoughts when you eyeballed him?
PLATT: Ah, it was him.
QUESTION: -- anything from his face, was he exhausted, frustrated, angry?
PLATT: It's hard to tell. I'm sure he was not happy.
QUESTION: Do you have any information yet on how he was able to obtain a weapon from deputy --
PLATT: No, I'm sorry, just can't comment on that right now. Thank you very much.
BAKHTIAR: All right. We're looking at live press -- live pictures right now of a presser out of Gwinnett County. This is where, earlier, at the Bridgewater apartment, Nichols was apprehended. In the -- it's a suburb northeast of Atlanta. Now we were just listening to Major Skip Platt, Fulton County sheriff's office, thanking all of law enforcement and calling this one of the largest manhunts in Georgia history. Earlier though we had chief Charles Walters of Gwinnett County speaking.
He was saying that this manhunt ended in the best way that it could in this particular case. He said at 9:50 a.m., units responded to a call by a lady saying that she had been in the apartment with Brian Nichols. She was able to get out. She called 911. SWAT teams were activated. They surrounded him and he, evidently, waved a white flag, a white t-shirt are and surrendered. Now, again what we know about this woman is that she had no relationship to Nichols, that she is now being debriefed. Again, Chief Charles Waters calling her a champ, saying that she behaved very professionally, that she was calm, that she helped end this manhunt.
Again, he said that this was a tremendous example of professionalism by the SWAT team and said that they would provide more details as they got it. Again, talking about the manhunt coming to an end, in Gwinnett County, a suburb northeast of Atlanta, where 33-year- old Nichols, who is now attributed for four deaths, is in custody and has been taken from one place to another, first from Gwinnett County to the FBI field office, where he was processed and then on the way to city hall east, possibly to a detention facility there. This all happening since yesterday, a manhunt for Nichols since 9:00 a.m. on Friday when he was on the way to the courthouse for a rape trial. He was -- he assaulted a female sheriff's deputy, took her gun, shot her, she is now in critical condition.
Then, he goes to the courtroom, shoot the superior court Judge, Rowland Barnes. He also shoots a court reporter, Julie Ann Brandau and then after fleeing the courthouse, he is followed by a sheriff's deputy, Hoyt Teasley and he fires at him, killing him as well. Evidently he goes and asks directions from an "AJC" reporter in one of the parking lots very close to the courthouse, Don Bryant, asks for his car and asks him to get into the truck of the car. When Don Bryant doesn't agree to do that, he pistol-whips him and he take off in his green Accord. That was the focus of the investigation for sometime. We later learned that the green Accord actually never left that building. And so the story unfolds. Let's go to Kyra now. Kyra, what can you tell us?
PHILLIPS: As we continue to follow these live pictures here, via our affiliate, WSB of the FBI SWAT agents, just outside the city hall there, where Brian Nichols is now in Federal custody. He's believed to be in this detention center. We're going to continue to follow these live pictures, as I mentioned, with the SWAT, FBI agents, out front there. Inside that building, Brian Nichols, a suspect, now police authorities believe, responsible for four murders. And just a few minutes ago, we heard in that news conference that Georgia authorities believe this was the largest manhunt in Georgia history. And now it's finally come to a close. And the man authorities have been looking for for 26 hours is finally in Federal custody.
We've heard so much from the detective on the case, the police chiefs involved, the DA, the prosecutor, we have not heard much from Brian Nichols attorney, Barry Hazen. He was the attorney that took on the case when Brian Nichols went on trial for rape and then was about to be re-tried once again on the rape charge, along with a number of other charges yesterday, when the shootings took place. Barry Hazen, now joining us in studio here in Atlanta. Boy, quite a 26 hours.
BARRY HAZEN, NICHOLS FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's been a rough 26 hours, yeah, it seems like days.
PHILLIPS: Well first of all, let me ask you are you going to represent Brian Nichols for the charges that he faces now? Do you know and can he request you and how does that go forward?
HAZEN: I still represent him on the case that's still alive. I would assume -- I may be wrong that the district attorney in Fulton County will likely go ahead and pursue the more serious charges first which would of course be the triple homicides plus all the associated charges that go along with that. My guess would be that that's what will happen. And the rape charges will be put on the back burner. I will not represent him in the new charges. I could conceivably even be a witness in the new case.
HAZEN: So my guess is that my representation of him will end when the case against him for rape ends. However that ends.
PHILLIPS: All right, well, let's talk about - first of all, were you able to establish a relationship with Brian Nichols as his attorney?
HAZEN: I thought I did. During the period of time that I represented Brian from December until now, he's always been polite. I found him to be a very intelligent logical thinking man. He took an interest in the case. He understood the details of his case. He understood a lot of the legal principles involved and was active in formulating strategy in presenting his case. He was always very respectful to me. And we were able to communicate -- not always perfectly well, but for the most part, better than many other cases I've had.
PHILLIPS: One of detectives on the case said he just snapped. A lot of people said that he appeared to be a very calm, thoughtful individual and that all of a sudden he just snapped and one thing led to another. And here we are, today. Did you see him as a violent person?
HAZEN: No, he never showed me that side of his personality. All of the people who testified at trial said that the behavior for which he was accused was completely out of character. He was not the Brian they knew, is how they phrased it. The relationship with the woman who ultimately accused him of rape...
PHILLIPS: Is this someone he had a relationship with for almost eight years, right?
HAZEN: Almost eight year, that's right. She said there was no abuse in the relationship, not even verbal abuse. There was no physical abuse, no verbal abuse, no emotional abuse. By all accounts this was a very even-acting person. And even in the courtroom he was that way. He was calm in the courtroom during both trials. In fact, he retained a sense of humor in both trials.
PHILLIPS: A week ago, he tried to slip in the little hand-made knives in his socks. Why did he do that?
HAZEN: They weren't hand-made knives - they were
HAZEN: No, they weren't even that. They were two pieces of metal that actually looked like heavy door hinges. They weren't filed down. There were no sharp edges to them and of course there was one in each shoe and they could be used as weapons and certainly, that was contraband. We didn't know that until Thursday morning. That was one day before the shooting. Apparently he had them in his shoes on Wednesday. Judge Barnes called us into chambers on Thursday morning and informed us about that.
PHILLIPS: Why would he do that?
HAZEN: ...for one day of trial.
PHILLIPS: Why would he do that? Did he tell you why he did it?
HAZEN: No, I never brought that up to him. I didn't want to precipitate a response number one and secondly, I really didn't want him to know we knew about it because I thought that if he knew we knew, that might make him redouble his efforts to secret contraband and so if there was more, I wanted him to feel secure in having that so that he might be careless and we'd find out about it. I didn't want him to become more thorough in being able to hide any additional weapons he might have.
PHILLIPS: It seemed like possibly a smart man, a manipulative man. He knew what he was doing and possibly gearing up for what he did yesterday. Do you believe that this was in his mind, he was thinking about it. He was seeing how far he could get with the little -- some say shank, some say hand-made knives. You're explaining that it's pieces of metal out of the doorknobs. Whatever it is, do you believe this man is pretty smart, pretty cunning, pretty manipulative? HAZEN: Oh, I think that Brian Nichols is a very intelligent, very analytical man who is a very fast learner. I think he can respond quickly in sudden situations. Yes. There was some evidence in the case where the police went to his house to try to arrest him. When they got in the house, he wasn't there. But there was a file cabinet on top of a toilet. Above the file cabinet was a sky light that had been opened and the theory was that he had actually escaped through the sky light. So he's a pretty clever guy, yeah.
PHILLIPS: Escaped through the sky light of -- when was this?
HAZEN: This was about two days before they actually arrested him. He was arrested at a gym in Buckhead. But two days before that, they tried to arrest him at his home --
PHILLIPS: ... before the trial started?
HAZEN: This was back in August, when he was originally charged.
PHILLIPS: How were you going to defend this man? Knowing what you know, seeing the details in this case, brutal evidence of rape, how were you going to defend Brian Nichols?
HAZEN: Well, the -- what happened in the house between him and the woman that he had the relationship with was largely a swearing contest. He said one thing, she said something else. It really came down to physical evidence and in the first trial, the jury was split heavily his way. The verdict was 8-4 -- or 9-3 for acquittal. So in that case, the jury was not convinced that the physical evidence supported her testimony beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, I'd have to say that the second case was presented in a much more muscular fashion. There was a lot more evidence being presented in the second case. In fact, it was mostly evidence of a corroborative nature. It was not only that these allegations were made, but that there was supporting evidence to corroborate that her allegations may have been the accurate allegation, the truthful ones.
PHILLIPS: And of course, it led in to a lot of details that this rape -- or the rapes could have been going on for a couple days. Did anybody ever warn you how this -- that Brian Nichols could be dangerous in court? Did the judge ever say anything to you, did Judge Rowland Barnes, who he eventually took the gun to and killed yesterday, ever say anything to you?
HAZEN: Yes there was an incident on Wednesday where the metal objects we were talking about a moment ago were found in his shoes. On Thursday morning - this was only one day before the shooting, on Thursday morning, Judge Barnes called me, as well as the two assistant district attorneys into his chambers to notify us that this had happened. And at that point in time, he was going to order what he said -- more beef in the courtroom, additional security. And after it was decided -- he decided that's what he would do, we actually sat together, the four of us, and talked a little bit about generally speaking, the kind of threats that occur to officers of the court, in situations like this. And the odd thing about it was, Judge Barnes actually said that he thought that the people usually in most danger were the defense attorneys because judges and prosecutors were presumed by some defendants who are angry to be just doing their job. And the defense attorney loses the case is presumed not to have done his or her job. So he actually indicated to me he thought I was in the most danger. Unfortunately and ironically, Judge Barnes wasn't correct.
PHILLIPS: Well and Judge Barnes said, we should beef up the security.
PHILLIPS: Why didn't that happen?
HAZEN: There was some additional security on the rest of Thursday, but we started out with one male deputy and one female deputy and the only difference on Thursday was the addition of one female deputy and there had been an incident, I think it was that day, when Mr. Nichols complained that during lunch, one of the deputies had allowed him to be seen by jurors in a way he should not be.
And now I wonder, if in fact the reports are true that he was not handcuffed on Friday morning, if, perhaps the deputies were leaning more toward the side of not having him seen in handcuffs than they were toward the side of making sure that he was secured.
PHILLIPS: Barry Hazen, Brian Nichols' attorney for the rape trial that he was in the process of going through before all this happened, with us here on set.
Stay with me please; I just want to recap for viewers.
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