A man on trial in Atlanta today apparently took a deputy’s gun and fatally shot presiding judge Rowland Barnes and a court reporter, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says. The suspect, identified as Brian Nichols, 33, apparently carjacked at least one vehicle after the shooting.
Nichols was on trial on six charges , including rape, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment, aggravated assault with intent to rape, burglary and drug possession. News of the shooting stunned lawyers. “Everybody knew Judge Barnes to be one of the judges that both sides would want to have on a case because he was knowledgeable about the law. He tempered everything he did with compassion,” said David Wolfe. “It sounds to me like an act of defiance or desperation. It’s a tragedy and a shock. What was going on goes on every day in every courtroom in that building.”