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Memorial for judge scheduled for Thursday

By Ed Brock

Jonesboro attorney Steve Frey tried to stop by Judge Rowland Barnes' office at Fulton County Superior Court every time he was in the area.

Frey said the office was like a general store.

"There was always somebody there willing to cut up with you. Whatever they had food or drink, they'd share it with you," Frey said.

Barnes was one of three people gunned down Friday during a shooting spree that occurred during rape-suspect Brian Nichols' escape from the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta. Police say 33-year-old Nichols overpowered Fulton County Deputy Cynthia Hall, took her gun, shot Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau and then ran from the courthouse.

Nichols is also believed to have shot and killed Fulton County Sheriff's Sgt. Hoyt Teasley outside the courthouse and federal agent David Wilhelm later Friday night.

Barnes' memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Atlanta International Convention Center in College Park. Like many others in the Atlanta and Clayton County legal community, Frey plans to go to the service.

Frey met 64-year-old Barnes about 20 years ago through Frey's father, who was also a lawyer.

"You kind of got the feeling he was one of the guys and he's become a judge but he's still one of the guys," Frey said.

Deputy Hall, 51, lives in Jonesboro. Hall was upgraded from critical to stable condition, a Grady Memorial Hospital spokeswoman said. Hospital officials previously said Hall suffered a blow to the head and possible fractures after falling.

Fulton County Sheriff's deputy Michael Carmack said during a memorial service Monday that he visited Hall in the hospital Sunday and she was "coherent."

Clayton County residents had varied responses to the courthouse shootings and Nichols' flight from authorities.

Paula Henderson was no more cautious than usual while Nichols was on the loose this weekend.

"I wasn't scared. I was just amazed that something like that was able to take place," Henderson said.

Nichols surrendered to authorities at a Gwinnett County Apartment Complex after his hostage, 26-year-old Ashley Smith, called 911 after she talked him into letting her go. Henderson said she wasn't sure if she would have been able to handle the situation like Smith did, but she would try.

The situation was very disturbing for 21-year-old Vernetta Leftwich of Morrow who just moved to the Atlanta area from Chattanooga. Things like this don't happen back there, Leftwich said she did take extra precautions.

"I made sure my windows were locked and that my son didn't go outside to play," Leftwich said.

There's a reason why shooting Nichols killed only law enforcement personnel, said 18-year-old Terence Benn of Morrow.

"He just snapped. He's mad at the system," Benn said. "Pressure busts a pipe."

Bill Buie, 60, of Rex started watching television coverage of the action two hours after the courthouse shooting and "followed it all the way to the conclusion."

He's concerned about the apparent security lapses that led to Nichols' escape, including the fact that Hall was alone with Nichols when he overpowered her.

"That seems like somebody who didn't have their thinking cap on," Buie said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.