Panel Suggests Security Improvements for Atlanta Courthouse

ATLANTA -- Courtroom surveillance cameras and proper restraints for inmates were recommended Thursday among ways to improve security at the courthouse that was the site of a shooting rampage two months ago.

The panel also suggested that a machine detecting weapons and bombs be activated on a skywalk between two court facilities and that high-risk inmates be escorted by two deputies. The suspect in the March 11 shootings, Brian Nichols, was being escorted by one deputy before he allegedly escaped and killed four people, including a judge.

U.S. Marshal Richard Mecum, chairman of the panel that was appointed to review security, will send a letter to Fulton County Sheriff Myron Freeman recommending the changes.

Members also suggested having special doors in courthouse holding cells that would allow deputies to handcuff inmates without entering the holding cells.

Nichols, who was on trial on a rape charge, is accused of shooting Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and court reporter Julie Ann Brandau in the courthouse and sheriff's Sgt. Hoyt Teasley outside the building. The fourth victim, federal agent David Wilhelm, was killed at his home later in the day.

Nichols was captured the following morning.