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Atlanta courthouse killings suspect captured

Officials say Nichols to face federal, state charges


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Atlanta courthouse killings suspect Brian Nichols, in light-colored T-shirt, is taken into custody Saturday.
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Fugitive Brian Nichols is captured in suburb of Atlanta.

A woman's 911 call led to Nichols' capture.

Nichols caught by security camera at Atlanta parking garage.

Jurors, lawyers and others describe suspect Brian Nichols.

Friends and family of the suspect react to allegations.
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Brian Nichols, the suspect in the fatal shootings of four people, will face both federal and state charges, officials said Saturday afternoon, hours after he was captured in an Atlanta suburb.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said his office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had filed a federal criminal complaint against Nichols, charging him with possession of a firearm by a person under indictment.

"This is essentially a holding charge that will ensure Mr. Nichols' detention while we sort out additional federal and state charges to be brought against him and where he should be held," Nahmias said.

Nichols, 33, was captured after an extensive manhunt just before noon Saturday at an apartment in Duluth, and gave up "without a struggle," said Maj. Skip Platt of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department.

"He literally waved a white flag, or a T-shirt, and came out and surrendered to our folks," Gwinnett County police Chief Charles Walters said. "He saw the police presence and thought it was obviously in his best interest."

Nichols was fingerprinted and booked at an FBI field office before he was taken to a detention facility in midtown Atlanta. He was transferred late Saturday afternoon to a federal building in downtown Atlanta just blocks from where Friday's courthouse shootings occurred.

Sources told CNN that Nichols would be held in maximum security at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta.

Other law enforcement sources said Saturday night that a state search warrant was being executed at the apartment where Nichols surrendered, with local, state and federal agents involved in the search. A drug-sniffing dog was accompanying the team, the sources added.

Police believe Nichols fatally shot Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and sheriff's deputy Sgt. Hoyt Teasley after he overpowered deputy Cynthia Ann Hall and stole her pistol while Hall was taking him from a detention area into Barnes' courtroom.

Hall remained in critical condition Saturday in a hospital in Atlanta but was expected to survive.

Nichols is also a suspect in the shooting death Saturday of David Wilhelm, assistant special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI said.

Wilhelm's truck was found at the site of Nichols' surrender, the Bridgewater Apartments in Duluth. Authorities also recovered Wilhelm's badge and a gun thought to be his, and were checking its serial number, an ICE spokesman said.

Police said Nichols, 33, had approached a woman he did not know as she returned to her apartment early Saturday and forced his way in.

"He told her, 'If you do what I say, I won't kill you,' " said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The woman established a relationship with Nichols "to survive," he said.

Nichols apparently released the woman at some point and asked her to follow him in her car so he could dispose of the pickup truck, law enforcement sources told CNN. She did so, and drove him back to the apartment.

She called 911 about 9:50 a.m. to report that he was there.

After the woman called authorities, a SWAT team was dispatched, Keenan said, and Nichols surrendered quietly after seeing police.

Suspect escaped on mass transit

For most of the day of the courthouse shootings, authorities in Georgia and surrounding states searched for a 1997 green Honda Accord that police say Nichols stole from an Atlanta newspaper reporter in a downtown parking garage.

The car was found late Friday night in the same garage, a few levels below where police say Nichols took it after hitting the reporter over the head with a pistol.

Security camera images taken Friday morning inside a stairwell in the parking deck showed a shirtless Nichols putting on a jacket, allegedly taken from the reporter, as he went to a lower level and disappeared.

Security camera images so far have not yielded clues as to how Nichols left the parking garage.

The deck is about a five-minute walk from two subway stations.

Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington said Nichols took a train north and that about 10:40 p.m., he tried to mug two tourists near a subway station in northern Atlanta's popular Buckhead neighborhood.

Nichols struck one of the tourists in the face and fled, Pennington said.

Police said Nichols went to Wilhelm's home, not far south of the train station, and fatally shot the federal agent.

Wilhelm was working alone on his home, which was under construction, at the time of his slaying, said Kenneth Smith, special agent in charge of the ICE office.

Authorities said they were still interviewing Nichols and they had not determined whether Nichols knew Wilhelm was an ICE agent.

Nichols could be charged with a federal crime only if authorities believe he knew Wilhelm was a federal agent before Wilhelm was killed, law enforcement sources said.

Rape trial

Friday, Nichols was being retried on rape, false imprisonment and other charges after a first trial last week ended in a hung jury.

A Fulton County official said authorities plan to try that case to its conclusion.

"In the early part of next week we plan to resolve the trial that this defendant was in on Friday," District Attorney Paul Howard said. "We hope that within a 30-day period we will receive the complete investigation from the Atlanta Police Department."

CNN's Tony Harris, Drew Griffin, KC Wildmoon, Mike Ahlers, Matt Sloane, Kathleen Johnston, Jeanne Meserve, Susan Candiotti and Mike Brooks contributed to this report.


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