Saturday, March 12, 2005

In case you've been sleeping for the last 30 hours or so, we just had a brutal murder spree in Atlanta.

The basic story is that the murderer, Brian Nichols, overpowered an Fulton County Sherriff's deputy while he was unshackled and being gussied up for a second trial related to false imprisonment and rape of his former girlfriend. He escaped just after 9:00 AM, Friday morning. He shot the deputy in the face - she's expected to survive - before running to the court, murdering a judge and court reporter, and then leaving the Fulton County Courthouse - shooting and killing another police officer on the way out. He then pistol-whipped an AJC reporter, murdered a customs officer, and fled to nearby Gwinnett County, where he was captured just before noon today.

What can we say?

Well, the Atlanta police come off looking like the Keystone Kops. Last week, he was found carrying a couple of shivs when he left court. This week, four people died because nobody was paying any attention to that, and to what court officials and jurors had to say about him: that he inspired fear and concern.

According to news reports, nobody paid attention when he fought the deputy for three minutes before overpowering her. The police put it out that he'd fled in a dark green Honda Civic belonging to the reporter he pistol-whipped. Hours later they found the car parked in the garage from which they thought he'd stolen it. Things moved much more quickly after they found the dead customs officer, but only because Nichols went to ground. If he'd kept running and car-jacking, he'd probably have made it to Baltimore, or St. Louis, by now.

At the news conferences the Atlanta police have held since this killing spree began, the police have come across as clueless, incompetent boobs. "We don't have that information at this time" was the constant response. Fulton County's DA, Paul Howard, opened his mouth only to remove one foot and insert the other. I mean, he had a man accused of bursting into his girlfriend's apartment with a loaded machine gun, tying her up with duct tape, sexually assaulting her for three days, and he ended up with a hung jury, thereby allowing the predator to go from rapist to mass-murderer.

Security at the Fulton County Court is obviously a shambles. Non-existent. The DA's office is obviously incompetent. All an invitation for a determined sociopath.

Now, Nichols. What a piece of work! He's from a good family, has a college degree, played college football. Of course, he got kicked off the football team when he was discovered to be a thief. He was going to trial for raping and kipnapping his girlfriend, owning a machine gun and handgun, and possession of 10 lbs marijuana.

When he overpowered the deputy he took time to shoot her. Then he took the time to shoot the judge and court reporter. There were other people in the court room. He paid no attention to them, so this was not a random attack, he planned to do it. When he took the AJC reporter's car, he ordered the reporter into the trunk. When the reporter fled instead, he knew the car's description was about to be plastered all over the state, so he parked, used public transport to get to another part of town, murdered someone else for a car, and fled in that car instead.

When he realized he wasn't going to get away with it he surrendered, meek as a lamb. He's probably hoping to go for an insanity defense.

To me he sounds like a man who's quick on his feet, happy to break all the rules, and willing to take chances. Hell, he might get away with it.

So, what now for him? Months of trials. Years of appeals. Execution.

Fine by me.

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