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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Brian Nichols Surrenders To Police
Aired March 12, 2005 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right Betty, thanks so much. It's been quite a morning. My gosh, since this happened yesterday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time is when it all began, in this massive manhunt for Brian Nichols has taken place since that point. I remember yesterday morning, when we got the call, that the shooting was taking place and that Brian Nichols had fled the courthouse, not sure where he was. Several car jackings took place.
And now we can tell you, at 12:01 Eastern time, Brian Nichols has surrendered to police after a massive manhunt. You're looking at live pictures, right now, where he is -- been taken to the Gwinnett County Police Department, because the arrest was officially made in Gwinnett County after he was holed up in an apartment complex, there. The SWAT team was called in, the negotiator began the process of trying to establish communications with him.
We don't have a lot of details of how it all went down or what went down. If, indeed, SWAT officers entered the apartment building or if they were just able to establish communications and he walked out and surrendered. We're not sure of the specifics. We're working on that now, but we can tell you, he did surrender, came out of the apartment complex. Then SWAT officers sort of gave him a pat down and a quick physical, looked inside his mouth, behind his ears, inside his clothing, his shoes, et cetera, because they wanted to make absolutely sure that this suspect had no weapons on him, to make sure he didn't take any type of drugs, hoping he was not attempting suicide. They take all these precautions when they get a suspect like this in their hands, because they basically just don't know what to expect.
And as you know, if you have been following this case, authorities have not known what to expect with Brian Nichols. When the shooting took place at 9:00 a.m. at the Fulton County Courthouse, here in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday, he was just about to be retried for rape. As he was heading to the courthouse, that's when this story started to unfold.
Now I'm being told we have a live picture at FBI headquarters. This is courtesy WAGA, our affiliate here in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been taken to FBI headquarters to be questioned. Does anybody have a location of the FBI headquarters? Is this, indeed, in -- it's on Claremont Road, which is in the city of Atlanta. So, he is -- he was arrested, actually, in Gwinnett County, now he's been taken to FBI headquarters on Claremont Road in the city of Atlanta. That's not far from where he was arrested, actually.
And let me tell you why the FBI is involved. Because of the number of murder charges that this man now faces. Brian Nichols shot dead three individuals yesterday that we know for sure, the suspect in the courthouse, the federal judge, also the deputy, the sheriff's deputy for Fulton County, and also the court reporter that was in the courthouse, then. Not long ago, we got reports that a Customs agent was found dead and police are now believing that that death could be linked to Brian Nichols.
Now, Rudi Bakhtiar, on the set with me now -- joining me, for the continuing coverage.
I know, Rudi, that you've been getting now information as I have been talking over these live pictures. What do you have?
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, we have a grief counselor on the phone, right now. We want to talk to them. It is -- her name is Sunshine Lewis.
Sunshine, can you hear me?
SUNSHINE LEWIS, GRIEF COUNSELOR: Yes, I can.
BAKHTIAR: My understanding is you've had a chance to speak with the families of the people who have been killed, yesterday. And what that is their response been to your telling them he's been captured?
LEWIS: Well, I just spoke to one and he had not heard he had been captured until just a minute ago.
BAKHTIAR: Who did you speak to?
LEWIS: And I think he's -- they've been up all night long. And when I told him, I mean, he just woke up and couldn't believe it, he thought it was still a dream, I think, but, you know, just very relieved. Oh god, just very relieved. And I'm sure that this family member -- these family members, at least now, may be able to kind of get a good night sleep, at least. They still have to deal with all the grief and sorrow and sufferings that has taken place in just a matter of 24 hours, at least now they, now, can kind -- you know, can kind of go on with their life.
BAKHTIAR: Understandably so. Sunshine, who did you speak to? Who was that person related to?
LEWIS: I spoke with Sergeant Teasley's nephew.
BAKHTIAR: And at what point did you call them? A few minutes ago?
LEWIS: Just a few minutes ago. Because I was in...
BAKHTIAR: When did they first learn of the shootings?
LEWIS: I'm sorry?
BAKHTIAR: When did they first learn about the shootings?
LEWIS: Yesterday? BAKHTIAR: Yes.
LEWIS: It was shortly after it happened, I think. Because from my understanding, Sergeant Tens -- I'm sorry, Sergeant Teasley was speaking with one of his relatives, I believe, on the telephone, right before all of this happened, you know, before the chaos broke out, yesterday morning. And then they tried to reach him, I believe, is what I was told, after that and, you know, they, you know, saw everything on the news and then, you know, family members, they say, started just calling, calling, calling his cell phone, trying to reach him, you know, and then, eventually, they found out that it was him.
BAKHTIAR: And what was their response when you called them, just a few minutes ago, to tell them that Brian Nichols has been captured?
LEWIS: They were -- I mean, it was just unbelievable because of the fact they did, you know, have just anticipated this, you know, all night, all day, all night. And I'm sure it felt, to them, like forever, you know, but they were totally, totally relieved.
BAKHTIAR: I'm sure. All of us here in Atlanta have been...
LEWIS: Oh, god. I didn't sleep a wink myself.
BAKHTIAR: Have been watching this so closely. It's happening in our own backyards and it's a horrific incident. I can imagine that the family members are equally shocked and dismayed by all of this. What are they saying their next steps are going to be?
LEWIS: Well, basically, right now, they're trying to work through with, you know, making the arrangements for burial and, you know, just kind of getting, you know, through day by day, I think, is more so what they're, you know, doing right now.
BAKHTIAR: All right. Sunshine Lewis, a grief counselor, who has spoken with family members of the people killed yesterday, giving us an update on their relief at the news that Brian Nichols -- 33-year- old Brian Nichols is now in custody -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: And you're watching live pictures, right now. We have a bit of correction, here. This is not FBI headquarters in the city of Atlanta, this is actually an FBI field office in Decatur where authorities have now taken Brian Nichols for questioning.
If you've just tuned in, we want to let you know the 26-hour intense manhunt for this suspected killer is now over. Brian Nichols is in custody. What police thought originally was a hostage stand- off, in Gwinnett County, and that's just northeast of Atlanta. Police say that he gave up without a struggle. We've been covering this story, as you know, since yesterday morning when this suspect opened fire inside the Fulton County Courthouse, killing three individuals.
And our Gary Tuchman had been working the story since yesterday morning and I am told now that Gary is at FBI head -- or not at the headquarters, rather, he's at the FBI field office in Decatur where Brian Nichols is at this time. Gary, how close are you to the suspect? And what can you tell us?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, I'm standing about 50 yards away from the suspect. Right now he's inside the vehicle. The scene here is really something, in terms of security. We have about 15 FBI agents, and ATF agents guarding the area. I'm standing, right now, next to two FBI agents wearing fatigues, holding rifles, guarding the gate, which is where the car is. They are apparently waiting for something before they take him out, but right now, I wouldn't call it a tense atmosphere, but I would call it a very careful atmosphere. They know what this man has done, they know what he's capable of. They're not taking any chances. And as I'm standing here, five more agents in fatigues have come in to offer up security. They're being very careful, here.
But he was taken from an apartment complex in Gwinnett County, Georgia, which is about 15 minutes away from here. They checked under his tongue, his ears, they shackled his legs, they handcuffed his wrists. Maybe some of the things they should have been doing in court yesterday, before this all happened. But right now, you can see people here are very happy because they have him, but they are being so careful. This is almost like -- this reminds me of when they took Noriega, the former strongman from Panama, into custody, the security they're offering, as they brought him to the jail facility in Florida. It's almost like an international criminal being captured.
PHILLIPS: And Gary, you --
TUCHMAN: The care they're taking.
PHILLIPS: We're getting -- we're getting, actually, the closest shot we've got of the suspect, so far. And -- can you actually see him right now?
TUCHMAN: Yes. I'm watching him right now in that white jumpsuit.
PHILLIPS: Cuffed from the front, shacked, obviously a number of armed officers around him.
TUCHMAN: I see him from the back, right now. I'm at the back of him, watching the agents take him in, and as I'm standing here, there are people in the neighborhood applauding outside. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but he has been taken out of the car into the building. He is officially in custody, here at the FBI office in Decatur, Georgia.
PHILLIPS: Now Gary, this is a field office in Decatur, Georgia, where the local FBI agents are stationed. Is that right? And look at, you can actually see the armed guards even outside that door, taking no chances that he get out of that office or anybody else is able to get in. We're actually getting a wider shot now, Gary. You're there on the ground, but we can actually see how they've secured the whole perimeter, not only just around this field office, but even farther out, and obviously, a number of armed agents inside. TUCHMAN: If you see a black fence surrounding the building, that's where I'm standing, right next to that fence, right now. Like I said, the Atlanta headquarters for the FBI. He was here for, Nichols, was here for about 15 minutes before he just came out of the car now and was brought in. It's unclear how long he'll be here, but it's clear the feds wanted to take care of this right away. He wasn't going into the jail in any of the local counties, here, he was going into federal protection.
PHILLIPS: No doubt. Now let's -- just to sort of recap, for a minute, Gary, I mean, you were -- you're bringing up the point about how the security is so intense, right now. And obviously, there have been so many people following this case since yesterday. And they might be wondering -- well, understandably, I mean, this man is wanted for three, possibly four murders, now. But, looking back -- and we just lost the area. No, now we're getting another shot, Gary, again, a closer shot of the door where Brian Nichols is.
But, just sort of recap from yesterday, as details started coming forward, this man, Brian Nichols was a security's concern even while on trial for rape, because he had shown -- the D.A. came out and said that he had come out with getting angry, you know, had a few rages here and there and then tried to sneak hand-made knives into the courtroom, just last week. And so, this is someone that was known to push the limits and not cooperate fully with authorities, and they were concerned about security at the courthouse, and worried about security surrounding the suspect while being led into the courtroom. And then, of course, we saw what happened. So, they're taking absolutely no chances, here.
TUCHMAN: Well, that's right and that was almost an aside, yesterday, Kyra. We were having a news conference with the district attorney, and the assistant district attorney who was prosecuting the rape case. And we asked her, was this guy any kind of security risk? She said, "Well actually, on Wednesday, he took two shanks into the courtroom." And shanks are crudely-made knives that inmates often make. So, he was found, after his day in court, going back to the holding cell, with two knives, one in each sock.
PHILLIPS: Out of a doorknob, right? Didn't he get them out of a doorknob, allegedly?
TUCHMAN: Well, what's being reported is it was filed out of a doorknob, it was filed with some device to make them sharp and he was carrying them in his socks. So, we said, "so what happened then?" They said, "Well, we told the judge about this. We told the judge that he may be a security risk and the judge said, OK, well, put more security on this guy when he comes back to court." So, that's the tragic irony of all this, is that he didn't have knives with him yesterday, but he stole two guns and he ended up shooting three people, killing them, wounding another person and maybe killing somebody else today before he was finally caught.
PHILLIPS: And Gary, you remember from yesterday, the district attorney, Paul Howard, and also the assistant D.A., Gayle Abramson, who was getting ready to cross examine him in the courtroom, just minutes before he broke out with the gun, she was not far behind him. She even said in the press conference, yesterday, she was concerned about her security and she had plenty of security around her. I mean, there were precautions being taken to protect her, to protect the D.A. And wasn't it you, Gary, that asked the D.A. if he thought that the gunman, that Brian Nichols might have been coming after him?
TUCHMAN: Why, I actually, I asked Gayle Abramson, the assistant D.A. and I wanted to be careful about this because I didn't want to scare her, but it was an important part of the story, and I asked her, "Did you think he was after you?" She said, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know I was one and a half minute away from the courtroom when this happened."
PHILLIPS: Unbelievable. And now, as you've mentioned, Brian Nichols, if you're just tuning in, the man wanted for three murders from a shootout in the Fulton -- north Fulton -- or the Fulton County Courthouse, rather, in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday. Twenty-six-hour manhunt, under way. He is now at this field office of the FBI in Decatur. Our Gary Tuchman who's been following this story since yesterday, from outside the courthouse. Gary is now there, next to this field office, where the suspect is being questioned.
How long -- Gary, do we know how long this is going to take, how many people will be questioning him? Because, I'm also being told that the ATF came forward and said authorities are in the process of getting a federal arrest warrant so they can hold him and question him also with regard to this investigation. And could that be, possibly, this link between the murder of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, that body that was found early this morning, here in the Atlanta area, off Lennox Road? The number of people coming in now to question him here in this field office?
TUCHMAN: Well, it's very likely that if he, indeed, is charged with that murder that that would be a federal crime and that the feds would have the right to take custody, permanently, of him for right now. I just want to tell you about the scene, right now. Even more agents are showing up, now. They're all wearing fatigues, they're all carrying guns and rifles and they are from the FBI, the ATF and Fulton County Sheriff's Office. As we speak to you lots of people have started to drive by. There's probably about 50 people standing on a parking deck about an eighth of a mile behind me, and as police cars pull into this area (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
PHILLIPS: Hey, Gary. Gary, if you can hear me, if you could, cover the bottom of the cell phone, we're getting a lot of wind and we can't hear you. If there is any way you can cup...
TUCHMAN: OK. Can you hear me -- can you hear me better now, Kyra?
PHILLIPS: Yeah. That's better.
TUCHMAN: OK, it's a very windy day in Atlanta.
PHILLIPS: I know it is. TUCHMAN: There's at least 100 -- at lease 100 people, members of the general public who've shown up and are applauding police cars as they drive into the complex here, so greatly relieved that Nichols has been caught. But, more and more police officers, FBI agents, ATF agents keep arriving at the scene, despite the fact this man has been brought into the building. But there are still -- it's very interesting, there are still agents who are pointing their rifles as this goes on, even though this man is now in custody, safely inside the building, we hope.
PHILLIPS: Understandably so. Gary Tuchman, just outside the FBI field office there in Decatur, Georgia, where moments ago we got a glimpse of, for at least 25 seconds, of Brian Nichols after a 26-hour manhunt. He is now in police custody. He's being questioned in this building. A man, police believe, is responsible for three murders, possibly four, now, is in this building being questioned. We're following the story as we go.
Rudi, what more do you have?
BAKHTIAR: Well, we have Tony Harris who is in Gwinnett, where Nichols was first taken into custody. Tony,
What can you tell us?
TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Hi, Rudi. Just want to give you the update from here. A lot of the details and the factual information you've been reporting all morning, we've been calling in, giving you updates and talking to the folks at CNN Wires just to update the story as we go along. So, let me just sort of set the scene for you just a bit. We're at the Bridgewater Apartments in Duluth, Georgia, that is in Gwinnett County. And just a moment ago, Barry Hazen, who is the attorney for Brian Nichols, has represented him, in the first trial that ended in a hung jury and then this most recent retrial, showed up on the scene and talked to reporters for a bit. He told us, once again -- much of the same information he told us yesterday.
He told us during a piece I reported for CNN "NEWSNIGHT," last night, talking about the demeanor of Brian Nichols, how surprised he was, initially, to hear the reports. Remember, Barry Hazen was not in the courtroom at the time that the shootings occurred. He was just on his way en route to the courtroom. He also mentioned the fact he has been in contact with Brian Nichols' mother, as late as yesterday, but that the parents are overseas in Tanzania. We believe -- we believe, we're still working on this angle of the story, we believe that they are working on a diplomatic mission in Tanzania.
Also at about out here, at about 9:50 this morning, Gwinnett County police 911 received a call from someone reporting that Brian Nichols was on the premises, here at the Bridgewater Apartments. Everyone responded, as you can imagine, this is a huge, multi-state manhunt that's going on, trying to apprehend Brian Nichols. Everyone descended on this apartment complex. We understand that there was a woman inside this one particular unit with Brian Nichols.
BAKHTIAR: What can you tell us about that woman, Tony?
HARRIS: All right, that's a good question, fair question. Let me see what I can add to the story. We don't know, at this point, whether or not the relationship -- the exact relationship between this woman and Brian Nichols. I had a conversation with the Atlanta police chief, Richard Pennington, on the way out to this location and what he said is, to the best of the information at this point in time, they believe that the woman is a friend and acquaintance of Nichols.
BAKHTIAR: And that person was never in danger?
HARRIS: We don't, we don't know that for sure. What we do know -- I don't want to get that far ahead of us. What we do know is that the woman was allowed to leave the apartment unit she was in with Nichols. We don't know if it was his unit, a unit he was sharing with someone else, but the woman was allowed to leave the unit. We believe there was an exchange a conversation with the authorities and shortly thereafter, Brian Nichols surrendered to police without incident. He did not appear to be injured, in fact, he was not injured. We understand he was -- they retrieved one weapon from the location, but he surrendered without incident and now is in police custody.
BAKHTIAR: Tony what about Barry Hazen, did he say anything about the state of mind Nichols was in?
HARRIS: He couldn't talk to us about the state of mind he was in these last 24, 26 hours. What he did talk about, rather extensively, is the Brian Nichols he knew up until yesterday morning. And, what he described is a young man who was articulate, who was well spoken, articulate, who was knowledgeable about the facts of the case, who was polite, well mannered, and who was attentive to everything going on in the courtroom.
Now, he did talk about the incident a couple of days ago when it was discovered that he had managed to smuggle in, to the courthouse, two shaved-down metal shanks, is what they're called, basically knives, makeshift knives, improvised knives he was able to smuggle into the courtroom in his shoes. There was a huge discussion about that among all -- everyone involved in the case: The defense team, the prosecution team, and the judge.
There was a decision made that there would be some additional security measures put into place. At that point, Barry Hazen says he began to become concerned about Brian Nichols' state of mind and what might happen, the potential for what might happen if a -- the jury returned a guilty verdict.
The other side of this that is interesting is that he also said that he didn't question Brian Nichols about the shanks, the improvised knives. And I asked him why? Why wouldn't you ask your client about it? He said he was concerned it might provoke a bigger response out of Brian Nichols. I found that quite telling.
BAKHTIAR: Very interesting. Tony, please stand by. Tony Harris is in Gwinnett where earlier the 33-year-old Nichols was apprehended and taken to the FBI field office, here in Atlanta. You're looking at live pictures, there right now. He is now responsible for four deaths. Four deaths are being attributed to Nichols. Kyra, what have you got?
PHILLIPS: That's right. We're looking at live pictures right now, courtesy of our affiliate WSB. Sort of a wide shot of the FBI field office here in Decata -- Decatur, Georgia. And you can see the number of security agents surrounding the area. In the green uniforms you've got -- the agents in green are FBI SWAT officers; and then you've got ATF officers; then you have local police, and local sheriff's department officials, all of them securing the area, of course, wanting to make sure that Brian Nichols, in no way possible, can leave that building. And everybody necessary will need to question him.
Now, also, as you know, there have been developments since this morning. Not just the three -- actually, we're seeing ATF escorting somebody in, right now. Not quite sure who this female is. It could be somebody that knows the suspect, Brian Nichols, someone who could be legal representation, it could be a relative, it could possibly be the girlfriend that he had for seven years, that the ongoing rape trial was centered around, we're not quite sure, but ATF bringing in a female, it looks like, into the field office, there. We'll try and find out who that is and why she might be important to the case. Also could be some type of officer, indeed, to do the questioning. We'll work that.
But, as we -- as we follow this live picture, this morning, as you know, there was a development that came forward and that was the death of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, David Wilhelm. We weren't quite sure if the death and the murder of that agent was related to -- getting word -- some new information, right now. Tell me who that is, that you just -- the name you told me in my ear.
OK. Perfect. Steve Lazarus, FBI spokesperson on the phone, right now.
Mr. Lazarus, we're looking at a live picture, right now. Are you able to see this live picture, by chance?
STEVE LAZARUS, FBI SPOKESPERSON: This is Steve.
PHILLIPS: Steve, are you there on the ground at FBI -- at the field office in Decatur?
LAZARUS: I'm actually outside our office, right now, yes.
PHILLIPS: OK, terrific.
This is Kyra Phillips, you're live on CNN. Can you tell me what's happening here at the field office? We're looking at a live picture, we see a number of people being brought up to the door, specifically the ATF escorting, it looks like, another female with a briefcase up to the door.
LAZARUS: Right. Right.
PHILLIPS: Can you tell me who that is and what's going on?
LAZARUS: Well, without going into individual identities and individual agencies, the macro picture of what's going on, right now, is that Mr. Nichols was taken into custody by the Gwinnett County SWAT Team. He is in federal custody, and that custody arises from the fact that he is a suspect in the assault of a federal officer, having to do with the Customs agent. He is here at our office, he is going through the normal booking procedure, which would including fingerprinting and taking his photograph. After that, he'll be taken, probably from here, to another detention facility, as yet undetermined.
PHILLIPS: Give us an idea, for the -- I mean, I can see your FBI SWAT agents, I can see ATF. I can see local authorities. I have -- I mean, no doubt, Steve, there is no way possible Brian Nichols can get out of this building.
LAZARUS: Well, I don't think that we want to tempt fate by saying anything foolhardy like that. I would agree with your assessment that, security right now, is extraordinary.
PHILLIPS: And, I want to confirm, too, not only the three shootings that took place yesterday at the courthouse, but the shooting death of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, David Wilhelm, this morning, is that -- do you believe that is definitely connected to Brian Nichols?
LAZARUS: Well, he is a suspect on an assault of a federal officer. I understand you have a name, I don't believe that we're releasing any names yet, but yes, he is a suspect in an assault of a federal officer, having to do with the murder of an ICE agent.
PHILLIPS: And, can I ask you, if you are attributing any other deaths to this man, at this time, or are these only...
LAZARUS: No, we are not.
PHILLIPS: These are the only four at this time?
LAZARUS: That's the only four at this time, yes.
PHILLIPS: Who exactly will question Nichols in this field office?
LAZARUS: Right now, it's too early for us to try to figure out what's going to happen, much more than an hour in the future, so, as far as all the interviews that will happen, as far as where he'll go, what will happen to him in court from now on, it's way too early right now, to try to figure any of that out.
PHILLIPS: Steve, there's been a lot of cheering. We could hear it in the background. Our reporter, Gary Tuchman, there on the ground, said a lot of people have been driving by, cheering on law enforcement. This has got to be an incredible moment for all of you, right now, considering what we've all been through since 9:00 a.m., yesterday morning, Eastern time. LAZARUS: Well, everybody's very happy, right now. I think that what the public got to see, was the truest of team efforts between every level, state, local, federal law enforcement, everybody working together. And it was a good outcome, we're all very happy right now, yes.
PHILLIPS: Steve Lazarus, FBI spokesperson there, right there on the ground. Thanks so much, Steve, for your time.
Also, we want to let folks know, we are expecting a 1:30 Eastern time FBI news conference. We will bring that to you live. If you're just tuning in, this is a live picture just outside the FBI field office. You can see the FBI SWAT agent, there, guarding the door, there's a number of those agents actually, around this building, because inside that door is the man, Brian Nichols, police have been on a massive manhunt for 26 hours, a man that was arrested back in August, and on trial, for a rape -- for a rape charge. There was a hung jury. So, he was back in court yesterday to be retried on that rape case. And as you know, we have been working this story since he opened fire. Three dead, and now a federal agent being accounted for. We're continuing to follow this news coverage -- Rudi.
BAKHTIAR: Kyra, we're going to turn now to Wallace Zeins. He's in New York and he is a former NYPD hostage negotiator.
Wallace, can you hear me?
WALLACE ZEINS, FMR. NYPD HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Yes, I can.
BAKHTIAR: Thank you for joining us. Have you been able to watch this whole situation unfold? We've been covering it live all the way since yesterday, actually. I don't know if you had a chance to watch the play by play, but how professional do you think this whole hostage crisis was carried out?
ZEINS: Well, first of all, it was probably one of the best, successful incidents that took place. No. 1, everyone acted with teamwork. And the important thing that made this very traumatic with -- was the fact that we had four law enforcement people killed. And, you know, People would think that, oh, because they killed law enforcement, the cops are going to go out and there and they're going to really go, you know, go after that person in a very different manner, but they were very professional. They used intelligence, they used communication, and most importantly, they had discipline of fire power.
One of the other situations -- one of the other things that was noticed, if you noticed when they sat on the vehicle, they formed, what we call, an inner perimeter, which meant they were able to get civilians out of the area and they were able to set up the inner perimeter for the SWAT team and the hostage negotiation team, which consisted of three people: A primary negotiator, a coach, and a floater. And that was very important. They also set up a command post outside the inner perimeter, which was able -- for the chiefs to get intelligence, get information about the situation.
Everyone worked like a team. You have the feds, you had the state, and you had the locals working in teamwork.
BAKHTIAR: Now, you're a former NYPD hostage negotiator, yourself. But you've worked in the NYPD. Tell us, you know, he was a security concern even before this trial, even from the last trial. Was the situation handled correctly in terms of when you hear how he was brought in and taken from the court?
ZEINS: I'm not going to second guess, but I will say this, they're going to have to sit down and build a better mousetrap. The way I saw it yesterday, I believe it was a female court officer, alone, took him to the trial room. Again, those procedures have to be looked into. That usually does not happen. They had information from the day before he had two shanks in each leg. They should have taken that precaution to give that extra security, just as you have right now in the FBI field office in Georgia.
BAKHTIAR: Right now, what kind of security do they have for him? They have shanks, I assume. Is he handcuffed?
ZEINS: Well, he is handcuffed.
BAKHTIAR: What can you tell us about the state he is in right now?
ZEINS: He is going to be processed for arrest processing. He will have a strip search. He is going to be checked over. They already checked him at the scene. The SWAT team went in there and they did what we call a toss. They did a body search. They checked every area. You know, you go with the premise in law enforcement, if you take one gun away from that individual, you continue the search.
You never know, he might have another gun. It's very important to continue the search of the individual. It's also very important to have that superiority of manpower around there, so he knows he has no opportunity to escape.
BAKHTIAR: What kind of superiority are we talking about? Numbers.
ZEINS: We're talking about the omnipresence of numbers of law enforcement out there. We have city, we have sheriff's people. We have federal people all around the place. Inside, there are security people there also. In addition to that, it's now an investigation to find out all the facts, even at the place where he barricaded himself. That becomes a crime scene. The car where the supposed custom agent was, that's a crime scene. Everything has to be done meticulously right now.
BAKHTIAR: How long does it take for them to search him and make sure he doesn't have any weapons? And is somebody going to be questioning him any time soon?
ZEINS: I believe they are going to question him soon. They're going to follow all the proper requirements for Mirandizing him. Then they will start the process. They will bring in a USA attorney. The U.S. attorney will sit down and they will start the process. They will videotape. They will do all the procedures that are needed to hopefully get a conviction.
Wallace Zeins in New York, former NYPD hostage negotiator. Thanks for your insight.
ZEINS: You're quite welcome.
BAKHTIAR: We're looking at live pictures right now at the FBI field office, here in Atlanta. Where the 33-year-old Nichols is now in custody. The door that you are looking at, some FBI agents and other personnel, people going and coming. Not really sure what is going on inside. We do know Nichols is in there. He was brought there about an hour ago. Of course, there will be a 1:30 FBI news conference. CNN will bring that for you live. So, stay tuned for that -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. You can imagine, Brian Nichols faces a number of murder charges here. Possibly four, now that the murder of this Immigration & Customs Enforcement agent, this morning, authorities are now saying they believe Nichols could be responsible for that as well.
Jeffrey Toobin, our legal analyst, on the phone with us now.
Jeffrey, let's take a look at all the legal implications. Let's backtrack, first, to here is a man that is being retried for rape. Where does that stand? Then we bring in the three shootings that took place yesterday, three individuals dead. Now, possibly a federal connection to this Immigration & Customs enforcement agent found dead this morning?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Kyra, it is quite a legal tangle. The first question, I suppose, that needs to be dealt with is what happens to the trial that was ongoing? It is hard for me to believe that trial will continue.
Obviously, the jury knows what has happened. My sense is a mistrial may be declared in that case. And then they will decide what order all the remaining trials take place in. What may happen is that case may simply be put on hold and the more serious murder cases are tried first.
The question then becomes who tries him for murder? Is it a federal case or is it a state case? Most murders are prosecuted in state court. However, there is the possibility that a federal case could be made because a federal officer was killed. There would be an issue there of did the suspect know that this was a federal officer? That might convert it to a federal case. There will be real serious legal discussions about where these trials take place as well as what he is charged with.
PHILLIPS: So, you're saying the rape trial, that could be considered obviously a mistrial? So, you would start with the murder charges and backtrack?
TOOBIN: I think that's possible. I mean, obviously, one of the big concerns here will be the death penalty. You know, I think a case like this is so enormous, it may even have political implications well beyond Georgia. Because the momentum in many respects in the country has been against the death penalty in recent years because of people being freed off death row on DNA evidence. You have the Supreme Court striking down the death penalty for juvenile offenders, for the mentally retarded.
But a case like this, many people will regard as crying out for the death penalty. Georgia does have the death penalty. The federal government does have the death penalty. If, in fact -- I don't want to get too far ahead here -- but if, in fact, he is tried in these murders and sentenced to death, the rape case may simply not take place, because it becomes legally irrelevant.
PHILLIPS: Of course, if he is found guilty on charges of murder, I mean, that's life in prison to the death penalty?
TOOBIN: That's a possibility. Again, I don't want to prejudge anything. These are the kind of things prosecutors think about when they decide what -- how to proceed in which case. Do we want to go through the tremendous time, expense, emotional toil of repeated trials if, in fact, someone is already sentenced to the death penalty? That will be something prosecutors are thinking about.
PHILLIPS: Our legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, with the insights here of what Brian Nichols now faces as he remains in custody at the FBI field office in Decatur, Georgia. This is actually video from earlier in the day when Gwinnett County SWAT officers were actually able to apprehend Nichols after he surrendered to police, what believed to be a hostage standoff situation. Once they got to the scene, it wasn't long before Nichols turned himself into police.
BAKHTIAR: All right. We have Bike Brooks on the phone in Minneapolis. He is a law enforcement analyst.
Mike, can you hear me?
MIKE BROOKS, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. I can hear you fine, Rudi. Good morning.
BAKHTIAR: Good morning to you. We're taking a look at live pictures on what's going on outside the FBI field office in Atlanta, where Nichols is in custody, inside there. Can you give us an idea of what's going on inside that building right now?
BROOKS: Right now, you see the officers outside. Those are the Atlanta field office, Atlanta FBI SWAT team. They are one of the nine enhanced teams that also support the FBI hostage rescue team. They're extremely good at what they do. I used to work with some of these gentlemen and ladies. They're good at what they do.
Inside, this building is just off the main offices of the FBI. It's still part of their little complex there, but some of the trucks we see around this building, this is where they have the SWAT team and the evidence response team, some of the specialty teams. Inside there, they probably have him sitting in a room, handcuffed, in leg shackles. It depends, Rudi, whether or not he decided to go ahead and waive his rights.
As soon as he was arrested, I can guarantee (AUDIO GAP) to make sure nothing went wrong with this case and to make sure he had a solid case against him, he was advised of his rights.
Just as we see on TV, you have a right to remain silent, those kinds of things. And they will ask him if he wanted to be represented by an attorney and have an attorney with him during questioning. These are rights that he is afforded. Whether or not he, as they say, lawyered up or asked for an attorney, then they would probably take him into a room, let him sit there and think about what he has done, what he will say.
Then, if he did waive his right, they will go ahead and have, most likely, an FBI agent, a federal agent, and also someone from possibly Fulton County or the Atlanta Police Department in there during questioning.
Now, in the Georgia area, in the Atlanta area, the Fulton County prosecutor's office as well as the U.S. attorney's office, works very well together. In this picture, we see a gentleman with his hand on his shoulder. He just took it off the man in the leather jacket. That is the special agent in charge, Greg Jones (ph). He is in charge of the FBI field office in Atlanta. As we saw him being -- Nichols being taken into this build, we saw Greg Jones walking alongside of him also.
He is in charge of the FBI office there. He was one of the people heading up -- who was spearheading this fugitive search for Nichols that led them to the apartment in Gwinnett, where the Gwinnett County SWAT team went in, took him into custody. Then he was turned over to the FBI.
Some people say why did the FBI come in and get involved? If, in fact -- my sources are telling me, my federal law enforcement sources are telling me they do suspect him in the killing of the Immigration & Customs officer. That is a federal offense, assault on a federal officer. They would lead the investigation on that side of things and work very closely, as I said, with the Fulton County prosecutor's office.
BAKHTIAR: What about Barry Hazen, who was his attorney yesterday, before all this broke out? Will he be the man to represent him now?
BROOKS: That's a good question. Hazen was his attorney of record at the time of the trial that was going on when the shootings took place. Whether or not he will represent him for this, that remains to be seen. If he decides not to, at his first court appearance, he could be assigned a federal public defender, depending on the charges. Most likely, he would be assigned a federal public defender, should Mr. Hazen decide not to represent him in these charges.
BAKHTIAR: Thanks very much for joining us, Mike Why don't you stand by? We may be coming back to you.
Kyra, I understand you have some breaking news to tell us about.
PHILLIPS: Continuing to watch the live picture here, via our local affiliate WAGA. This is outside the FBI field office in Decatur, Georgia, where law enforcement officials are gathering, as you can imagine, a lot of things they're talking about, possibly four murder charges now against the man inside this building, Brian Nichols, the man that opened fire in the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday, 9:00 am Eastern time.
Now after a 26-hour manhunt, they believe they got their man and they got him in that office right there next to where they are gathering. He will be questioned now by a number of agents, not only for three murders here in the Atlanta area, but also now the murder of a federal agent and Immigration & Customs enforcement agent that was found dead this morning.
Our Gary Tuchman is there on the scene right there by the field offers in Decatur, Georgia. What more can you tell us about what's happening right now and so many other law enforcement officials showing up where the suspect is now?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, here is the latest. The FBI on the scene is telling us, to add to Mike Brooks' report, as we speak inside this building in Dekalb County, Georgia, the suspect is being booked and being fingerprinted. And he will not stay here very long.
They will bring him to an undisclosed detention facility most likely in the Atlanta area. He will remain under federal custody. I asked the question why will he remain under federal custody? Will he be charged with that murder of the Customs agent, which is a federal agent? The FBI agent here tells me as of now, we can't declare unequivocally he is being charged. However, he is suspected of his murder, therefore, he will remain, for now under federal custody.
Will he stay under federal control? We don't know the answer to that. A lot of that may depend on him being officially charged with the murder today of the Customs agent. Right now, Nichols is inside, getting fingerprinted. It looks like he will be leaving here shortly to go to another detention facility in the Atlanta area.
PHILLIPS: I'm getting word from our sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent found dead, David Wilhelm, according to a spokesperson, from an IC spokesman, that David Wilhelm's truck and badge were recovered at the scene of the arrest of Nichols. Authorities also recovered a weapon, which appears to be Wilhelm's and they are running a check on serial numbers, right now, as we speak.
This information just into us, as we talk about Brian Nichols being in federal custody, that everything is matching up, that it's very possible he is attached to the murder of this federal agent, David Wilhelm.
PHILLIPS: Yes. TUCHMAN: Kyra, I'm sorry, but all signs are pointing to, he will be charged with that murder. They want to cross their Ts and dot their I's before they say that. That's why they are making it very clear, he is staying under federal custody for now.
We do want to tell you also, the FBI is telling us, and this relates to what we were talking about before, with all the agents here, with their guns and rifles still at the ready as we speak, they say this is unprecedented security in this region of the country for one individual under arrest.
PHILLIPS: All right. Gary Tuchman there just outside the FBI field office in Decatur, Georgia.
This, right here, was actually taped from earlier. That truck you're looking at -- as well, we're kind of pulling away now. The truck we were focused on is the truck that was recovered when Nichols was arrested here in Gwinnett. That truck being -- was owned by David Wilhelm, the federal agent, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent that was found dead this morning.
The murder suspect, Brian Nichols, who is now inside this field office being questioned, of course, now is being linked to not only those three murders yesterday at the county courthouse, but now the murder of a federal agent.
Let me back up a little bit. As we continue rolling on this live picture. How did this all begin? Well, Brian Nichols was in court getting ready to be retried for rape. He was arrested last August and was on trial. There was a hung jury. Then the case was about to be retried. That's when all hell broke loose yesterday.
When Nichols was on the way to that courtroom, he was able to take the gun from the deputy that was taking him to the courthouse. We are being told she is still in critical condition at this time.
He got that gun. That's when he entered the courthouse, opened fire on the judge that was about to oversee his case, killed the court reporter also and then fled the scene, shooting dead a sheriff's deputy on the courthouse steps.
Well, the case, that rape case was being handled by the Fulton County Police Department. It was a very aggressive and assertive young detective by the name of Wade Yates (ph) working that case. His boss, is Fulton County Police Chief Deputy Gary Stiles, and he joins me now here, on set.
You and I have been trying to talk in the last 48 hours. You've been quite a busy man, chief. Let's go back and just talk about this man that you and your detective went after since -- well, it was before last August. I mean, it was before he went to trial the first time. What happened? Kind of go over the case with us and when you found out about this man in the Atlanta area and why your detective was sent on the case, in the first place.
GARY STILES, FULTON COUNTY DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: Well, first of all, let me make one correction. I'm not directly Detective Yates' boss. I'm deputy chief of public information right now. His boss is Deputy Chief McCarthy.
Detective Yates and our detectives were investigating an extremely serious rape case, just a brutal rape case earlier this year. They did a wonderful job in tracking down the person, and the arrest was made successfully after a tip was phoned in. The man was arrested and brought to trial.
PHILLIPS: And the man we're talking about, obviously, is Brian Nichols?
PHILLIPS: Right. And the rape case we're talking about -- we had talked a little bit about the specifics yesterday. He had this seven- year relationship with this woman. A lot of details were released yesterday about how he had held her up in -- actually, here are the charges right here. This is from yesterday, Chief, about the rape, false imprisonment, aggravated sodomy, burglary. We can see the whole list of what was up against him.
And kind of review how intense this case was. We heard the word it was pretty brutal. But tell us what this man was being charged with? What was he it he did that was a concern to you, your detective, and your department?
STILES: The case hasn't been brought to trial. I'm going to be general on it. But it involved the fact that the woman was held against her will. She was savagely raped and brutalized over a fairly long period of time. It was just one of these cases that, I mean, all crimes are crimes we're interested in solving. This is just one of the ones where you want to get this person off the street as soon as you can.
PHILLIPS: So, here he was. He was coming in to be retried. Your detective was on his way to the courthouse. Did he make it into the courtroom? Did detective Yates get to see his man in court?
STILES: No. The information I have is Detective Yates was -- had parked his car and was maybe a block or so from the entrance to the courthouse when the deputy was shot there on the street. Deputy Yates ran to that location. He did not, I believe, see the actual shooting. He was around the corner from it. But he was just seconds from it.
PHILLIPS: Did he know that it was his man that had opened fire on this deputy? Did he know it was his case that had gone awry, once he got there? When did he find out it was his man that had escaped?
STILES: He didn't find out it was his man until he was able to identify himself at the building. Then he was immediately escorted to an office location and informed and made sure his family was protected.
PHILLIPS: Just knowing the background of the rape case, did it surprise any of you to find out what Nichols had just done? STILES: I don't think anybody could have predicted that level of violence or that unpredictable response. Does it surprise me that he is violent? No, it does not.
PHILLIPS: You've been handling the case, all of you. So, I'm curious. When you found out he was caught not long ago, I can see kind of the relief on your face, but what was the word throughout the department? How did you feel? How did Detective Yates feel? I know you've all been talking non-stop since it happened.
STILES: Certainly. Everyone from Chief Coleman to the first beat officer on the street has a tremendous sense of relief. We have been working virtually around the clock since this incident occurred, supporting Atlanta's efforts and supporting the FBI. While I mention that, we can't stress strongly enough the tremendous cooperation and response from all law enforcement.
We have had offers from just about every corner of the country, that if we needed help or Fulton County Sheriff's Department needed help. People were volunteering to come from everywhere.
PHILLIPS: Have you been able to reach Brian Nichols' parents or even his ex-girlfriend that this rape case was surrounded around? Have you been able to question any of these folks or know the whereabouts of them at this point?
STILES: I don't have any information on that right now.
PHILLIPS: OK. Will you be involved at all as the murder cases go forward with regard to the rape case? Will you all be working jointly on this? How will that all work legally?
STILES: At this point -- I was listening to some of the other comments made earlier. I'm not certain how that will go forward. That will, of course, be up to the Fulton County district attorney's office to have a liaison with the U.S. attorney's office. I'm sure they'll sort that out. We have a variety of capital offenses here.
PHILLIPS: No doubt. Fulton County Deputy Police Chief Gary Stiles, thank you so much for being with us. It's been a long haul, looking from the case you guys handled, this rape case, leading all the way up now these murder cases this man faces.
We appreciate your time and maybe we'll get a chance to talk to Detective Yates as he makes his way, this way, later this afternoon.
STILES: Certainly. We want to thank all the news media, especially the coverage that the major national networks gave, such as CNN. The quick response in getting these tag numbers out and getting the descriptions out are a tremendous asset to law enforcement.
PHILLIPS: It's been pretty incredible just the past 26 hours.
STILES: It has.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Chief. I appreciate it. STILES: You're welcome.
PHILLIPS: We do expect another news conference from the Gwinnett Police Department, at 1 p.m. Eastern time. We're told that is about eight minutes away from now as our breaking news coverage continues. Brian Nichols in this FBI field office in Decatur, Georgia -- Rudi.
BAKHTIAR: All right. We're still looking at those live pictures, Kyra, outside the FBI field office here in Atlanta where Nichols is in custody. He was apprehended just over an hour ago. Let's go to Drew Griffin, standing by in Buckhead.
Drew, can you hear me?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can, Rudi.
We're at the site where the Customs agent was found dead this morning. It appears now from all indications, that this is connected. Although, officially, we haven't heard that for sure.
Let me tell you what we do know about this scene. Number one, the Customs agent's gun and apparent badge, and from our Homeland Security reporters are saying that even his truck was found where Mr. Nichols was arrested. That person's body, the Customs agent's body was found behind me on a road where new construction is going on.
And according to the neighbors here, they have told us this Customs agent apparently had a home under construction and visited here a lot. How did Nichols get to this scene where potentially this Customs agent was checking on his home under construction? That is the question everybody is looking into. What I can tell you is right before Mr. Nichols struck the "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reporter, as you can recall, he asked for directions to Lennox Mall, Lennox is three blocks up this hill away. The MARTA station literally three blocks away.
So, Rudi, conceivably, Mr. Nichols could have walked out of that parking garage, crossed street, taken the Blue Line transit here in Atlanta, one stop to the east, got on a red line and literally been right where I'm standing in about 20, 25 minutes after he walked out of that Centennial Parking garage. That is what we know.
We also know that MARTA Police joined the investigation here at this scene. If Mr. Nichols did take MARTA, I'm sure there are cameras inside, not one but two or three MARTA stations he would have gone through. They can determine, indeed, if that was his mode of transportation, which would have been easy to do without a car or without money, you simply jump the turnstile and you're in the system.
BAKHTIAR: Yes, we're still trying to connect the dots here, Drew.
Give us, if you will, the lay of the land for people that don't live in Atlanta and don't know exactly where Buckhead is relative to the courthouse where the shooting took place. It's about eight miles north of downtown, a major freeway, the 85, 400 actually connects right here. The MARTA train, which is the Red Line, that goes north and south comes straight up here from downtown. Buckhead, a fairly affluent shopping area. It is known for some of its big houses. But the area we're in is mostly apartments and condos.
And right down this hill, Rudi, in the gully there is where about four or five homes were under construction. That's what we understand from the neighbors. We have not been able to go down there. The yellow tape that surrounded the actual crime scene where the body is, is a home that is under construction, according to the neighbors who were allowed to go down there prior to the police roping it off. That is where the body was found.
So, we are literally about three blocks down the hill from Lennox Square Mall and down the hill from the Lennox Square MARTA Station and right down the street from where this Customs agent was building a house, apparently.
BAKHTIAR: Do we know who found David Wilhelm, the Immigration and Customs agent?
GRIFFIN: I do not know that yet. We have not gotten one official comment from all the police that have come out of here. We're talking about AFT, Atlanta, FBI, GBI, MARTA police, the coroner. Not a peep. All we are getting is the information that comes from downtown headquarters and also the eyewitness information that we're getting from some of the neighbors who were able to go down there before it was roped off.
BAKHTIAR: Well, give us, if you will, a play by play of what you were talking about just a little earlier of how you formulated a little bit of a theory of how he might have gotten from downtown to Atlanta. Take us through that again -- excuse me, to Buckhead.
GRIFFIN: Well, again, Rudi, it's all speculation, but it does add up to how easily it could be done. If you walk out of that Centennial Parking garage downtown, that parking garage where we have the picture of Mr. Nichols coming out, he literally walks across the street and into the MARTA station right under CNN, and right under the Phillips Arena.
He can take a train, the blue line, one station to the east and jump on the red line. That red line is probably about six, seven, eight stops north. He gets off at the top of the hill. So, that would put him directly here. You could do it. I have done it. You can do it in about 20, 25 minutes if the trains are right there connecting.
You could easily do it without paying. You just have to jump over a turnstile. It's not like New York where you have penetrate any kind of gates or anything. You just jump over. I have seen people do that all the time who don't have money to buy a ticket.
BAKHTIAR: All right. Drew Griffin, standing by the scene where the Immigration and Customs Agent David Wilhelm was killed or his body was found. Drew, thank you, standby, we're going to go to Kyra now, but I'm sure we'll speak with you again soon.
PHILLIPS: All right. Just to recap where we are, if you're just tuning in, the 26-hour intense manhunt for Brian Nichols is over. Right now, the man being charged what we are being told possibly now four murders is just behind this door in Decatur, Georgia, that is the FBI field office. This live shot, courtesy our affiliate WAGA. We do have correspondents on the ground there.
There is ATF, FBI, FBI SWAT, local law enforcement, as you can imagine, every part of law enforcement is here at this office, questioning the man now believed to be responsible for four murders since yesterday; 9:00 am Eastern Time, yesterday, when Brian Nichols was heading to the courtroom to be retried for a rape trial, the first time he was in the courtroom, there was a hung jury. So, he was on his way to the courthouse.
He was being escorted by a female sheriff's deputy, Fulton County sheriff's deputy. What we know at this time is that he overpowered her, was able to get her gun away from her. We know there was some type of trauma to her head. She is still in the hospital. Still alive, luckily. And police will be questioning, obviously, her further when they get the chance to do so.
It was at that point that Brian Nichols entered the courthouse of the Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, opened fire, killing him, killing the court reporter inside that courtroom. And then fleeing heading outside of the courthouse and that is where once again, the third murder took place of a sheriff's deputy there on the steps of the courthouse.
Well, let's go ahead a little further to this morning, when the body of the immigration and customs enforcement David Wilhelm was found dead this morning and now his truck, his badge and his gun were found when Brian Nichols, right here, finally turned himself in in this apartment complex in Gwinnett County. You're seeing the truck right there that police believe Brian Nichols drove to this area, the truck that was owned by David Wilhelm, the federal agent that was found dead this morning.
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