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Brian Nichols Now In Custody

Aired March 12, 2005 - 15:45   ET


RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Welcome to the special edition of CNN LIVE SATURDAY. We're devoting this hour to the capture of the man authorities say was responsible for a day of terror, here in Atlanta. A police news conference is set to start in about 15 minutes. We're bring it to you live when that happens. But first here are the latest developments for you.
Brian Nichols is in custody a day after police say he shot and killed three people in a courthouse, including a judge. He surrendered without incident, though, this morning in an apartment complex in Duluth, a suburb just north of Atlanta.


CHIEF CHARLES WALTERS, GWINNETT COUNTY POLICE DEPT.: He literally waved a white flag or a t-shirt and came out, surrendered to our folks. The excellent thing is we had sufficient force there, there was no alternative to him.


BAKHTIAR: Now, what you're looking at, here, is a security camera images taking -- taken of Nichols Friday morning. He was inside a parking garage after he allegedly committed a series of carjacking following that courthouse shooting.

Police don't know where Nichols went next, but they suspect he's behind the killing of a U.S. immigration and customs enforcement agent found dead earlier today, several miles away. The agent's pickup truck was discovered at the apartment complex where Nichols eventually surrendered.

Now, Brian Nichols' family is in shock over the events that have transpired over the past 30 plus hours. CNN's Kathleen Koch has been talking to some of Nichol's relatives in Baltimore, Maryland, where he grew up.

Kathleen, what can you tell us?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're really in a state of disbelief, as are the people in this working-class neighborhood, in northeast Baltimore, where Brian Nichols grew up. Everyone said he was a very nice young man. He was very friendly, very outgoing, very popular. And we spoke a few minutes ago with a young man who lived just behind him when he was younger than Brian Nichols, and he said "Brian was someone we looked up to, we admired him. He was a role model for us." Brian attended a local private catholic school called Cardinal Gibbons High School. He was an athlete there, on the football team, he was on the basketball team. And we spoke with one of his good friends, a young man named Charles Franklin, who was on the basketball, excuse me, the football team with him, and he said that Brian, while aggressive on the field, he was never aggressive in person.


CHARLES FRANKLIN, FMR. CLASSMATE OF NICHOLS: The Brian that we know was very funny, like the big comedian in the neighborhood, very ambitious and self-determined individual, highly educated, and also he has a background, like we both do, in the martial arts, to a degree...


KOCH: Now, the two young men, one of them did Tae Kwon Do, Brian did Karate. And again, Charles said that Brian never used his Karate to fight with anyone, never used it in anger.

We spoke earlier this morning with some family members, an uncle who said the family is in total shock, they offered their condolences to the family members of those killed in Atlanta, and this uncle, Reginald Small, said he hadn't heard from Brian in quite some time. Same thing with friends, many of the friends here, hadn't heard from Brian in about six, seven years, but at that point, they said he was doing very well and seemed very happy.

So, again, everyone here shocked, but also relieved to see that at least Brian did give himself up and that no more lives will be lost in this. Back to you.

BAKHTIAR: Kathleen, the Brian Nichols that people there are describing seems so different from the Brian Nichols that we've been introduced to since yesterday. Does anybody offer up any suggestions, any clues to what happened, what set this guy off?

KOCH: No one seems to know, and what was very revealing was a conversation that we had a short time ago with a young man who was a neighbor, who actually said that at least in his opinion, it was Brian's brother who was a little bit rougher around the edges, the one people thought would get into trouble, but that Brian himself, if there was a party, loud music, if there was an altercation, he stayed away from it. He was the one that, again, the children in this neighborhood looked up to as a role model, someone that they should emulate. So, everyone's very puzzled, but a friend who we spoke with, again, Charles frankly, he said you never know what it is that is going to push someone over the edge. Some branches in the wind bend and others break, and in this case it looks like Brian did break.

BAKHTIAR: All right, Kathleen, why don't you stand by. Let's go now to Gary Tuchman. He's at city hall in Atlanta.

Gary, you're at city hall. That's where the courthouse murder suspect, Barry (SIC) Nichols is being held, right now, and we're also awaiting a press conference in a few minutes. What can you tell us? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rudi, we're at the Atlanta city hall, just a couple blocks away from the courthouse where these shootings occurred yesterday, awaiting a news conference by law enforcement authorities, from the FBI, from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is the GBI, and other local agencies about what has transpired over the past 31 hours. And it really has been a tragic, but wild last 31 hours.

About four hours ago, the suspect in this case, Brian Nichols was brought into an FBI facilities, here in Dekalb County Georgia, about 15 minutes north of the city of Atlanta. The security was elaborate. I know you hear that a lot about elaborate security. Trust me, according to authorities here in the state of Georgia, they've never had more elaborate security for a single person who was arrested. There were at least 25 or 30 agents dressed in camouflage, dressed in military, from the FBI from the ATF, from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, from the Fulton County Sheriff's Department, holding rifles, aiming them in the direction of the SUV that 33-year-old Brian Nichols was in.

The vehicle pulled up to the FBI facility, and he waited in there for a little while, we're still not sure why, but I was standing about 50 yards away from the car watching all this. At this point, people in the neighborhood started gathering about a quarter of a mile behind us, many of them started clapping in relief this was all over. Finally Nichols got out of in a white jumpsuit and was ushered inside the building. We were told by FBI officials this was only would be a pitstop, that he'd be there a short time getting book, getting fingerprinted, before he was moved. And about one hour later, at 1:00 Eastern time, he came back out again.

There was less security this time around, at least apparent to us, but there were still agents holding rifles. We were asking why the rifles, just out of curiosity. They said not only because what this man has done, and what he's possibly capable of doing, but because they wanted to be very cautious if he had friends in the area that were going to help him out, because it is a relatively open area outside the perimeter of the FBI headquarters in Atlanta.

He is now at an undisclosed location, here in the Atlanta area. Of course for security reasons, they don't want that information released, but we can tell you that Nichols is in custody. Charges will come at a later date, but it appears he will be charged with four murders, three yesterday and one today.

Once again, news conference going to start in a few minutes. We'll be getting many more details of what's transpired over the last 31 hours. Rudi, back to you.

BAKHTIAR: Gary, a lot of details that we're waiting for. One is is -- I don't know if you know this or not, but what are they doing with him right now? Let's actually go now to Tony Harris, we'll get back to Gary Tuchman in just a moment. Tony Harris is at the apartment complex where Brian Nichols was taken into police custody earlier today. That was where he waved a white flag and surrendered peacefully and very surprisingly -- Tony. TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Rudi, let's -- we've done a wonderful job of sort of explaining to people the events that unfolded. After the woman who lived in this apartment complex, in Duluth, in Gwinnett County, here in Georgia, after she made her way out of this apartment, and made her way a short distance away from here to the leasing office and called 911, which then set a whole series of events into motion, but I want I'd like to right now is to take you back in time to the wee small hours of this morning, and give you some details that you don't know at this point.

At about 2:00 a.m. in the morning, this woman left her apartment to go to a nearby gas station to pick up some cigarettes. This is the information that we're getting from CNN law enforcement sources. She comes back to her apartment, she's about to enter her apartment, and that's the moment in time that Brian Nichols surprises her, presumably at gunpoint, and forces his way into her apartment. And then all hell, chaos ensues. She -- we understand is bound, and at one point she is tossed into a bathtub.

This is significant, and let me explain why. This seems to be consistent with a pattern of behavior demonstrated by Brian Nichols, this same set of actions is what was alleged in the rape trial that he has been tried for twice now. This is the same set of actions, where he allegedly bound the victim in that rape, and tossed her into a bathtub, and then proceeded to torture her. Allegedly, that is what happened here. This woman goes into her apartment, Nichols follows her in at gunpoint, she is bound, she is thrown into the bathtub. At some point, Nichols releases her, and this is the bit of new information that we're reporting for the first time on CNN, from CNN law enforcement sources. Nichols at some point releases this woman, during this overnight ordeal, and he demands that this woman follow him in her car so that he can dispose of the truck that belonged to his alleged fourth victim, the customs agent. Follow me here. He demands that this woman follow him as he disposes of this pickup truck.

In fear of her life, knowing, of course, that he knows where she lives, he's standing in her apartment, she follows, she follows the order, she follows him as he disposes of the truck. He then gets out of the truck, gets back into her car, and she drives him back to this apartment. We don't know what ensues over the next few hours. Here's what we do know.

At some point, Nichols either decides to release her, or she is able to talk her way to freedom. What we do know is she leaves this apartment, she makes it a short distance to the leasing office, she calls 911. At that point the first officer to respond was Gwinnett County police officers, Anthony Basset. He responds to the scene, he goes and talks to this woman, this home invasion victim in the leasing office, determines that her story is credible, calls all kinds of backups, unleashes the reinforcements, Gwinnett County SWAT shows up on this location, at this apartment complex, and you know the rest of the story. At some point, Nichols, who is watching this manhunt on television from this woman's apartment, holds up the universal sign of surrender, a white towel, the white t-shirt, and comes out of the apartment, hands aloft, and turns himself in to Gwinnett County Police. And I think you may be seeing some of the aerial pictures of that surrender going on, right now.

He is now, as you know, as Gary just mentioned, in FBI custody. He's being questioned there. And we can also tell you that the woman who, once again is being described, because of her actions, in this case, during this whole ordeal, as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is also being debriefed by the FBI.

There's the story from Duluth -- Rudi.

BAKHTIAR: What amazing strength, this woman showed, Tony. Thank you for all those details.


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