Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Friday, March 11, 2005
 
Alleged to Escape From The Trial, Shoot Judge, Carjack and. . .?

Some extremely disturbing mayhem in Atlanta this morning: The New York Times summarizes what seems to have happened so far: One Brian Nichols was on trial (for raping his fiancee?) when he allegedly grabbed a sherriff deputy's gun and shot and killed Judge Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau, and perhaps one other Sherriff's deputy. He probably would have been in plainsclothes without handcuffs and then, it seems, he escaped, hijacked a car from, and pistol whipped, an Atlanta Journal Constitution Reporter, Don O'Briant--read his own account of what happenned to him:
First he asked how to get to Lenox Square.
Then he pulled a gun and said "Give me your keys or I'll kill you!"
I gave him the keys, and then he said "Get in the trunk."
I said no. I thought maybe I was going to be killed, but I wasn't going to get in the trunk.I turned to run, and that's when he hit me in the head with his gun.
I fell down, and I got up and ran into a garbage bin. I got up again and ran.
I scrambled into the street, waiting for the shots to come, but they didn't come.
After abandoning O'Briant's green Honda, it seems that the suspect might have hijacked a tow truck. But he's still at large in Atlanta, and schools there are under lockdown. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is posting updates here.
This is a horrible story, which reminds me of the story of the murderers of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry: how can someone not realize that they're much better off dealing with the possibility of a rape conviction than with a much surer double or triple murder conviction? Or getting shot. Admittedly, if all of this is true, this guy has defied the odds and may very well escape. For now. But he would undoubtedly be one of the most hunted men in recent southern history. Every single member of law enforcement is going to take this personally. For that matter, a bunch of journalists might start taking this personally. The media attention may make it even more difficult to stay underground.

Having to lockdown your schools because someone is running around with a gun after having shot three people in a courtroom full of people has got be extremely nerve wracking, and I wish the people of Atlanta the best in dealing with the situation.

Abstractly, this is a very interesting story to read about, because so far I haven't read any quotes from people who were in the courtroom, so everything is still "allegedly" except when the police are talking. But O'Briant's story is particularly striking because it's not often that you get a reporter writing about crime without an allegedly. First hand knowledge is a rare thing in journalism.
Link from Eva Chan.

UPDATE: (3/12 Saturday Morning) So they caught the suspect, without a struggle, but possibly with an addition to the bodycount. You really gotta wonder what kind of thought process led to this sad, sad series of events.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Yglesias:Tpmcafe
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Ethan Zuckerman
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Brad DeLong
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