With all due respect to the police officer who was murdered in Fulton County, Georgia yesterday, the police down there are utterly incompetent. I say that with some level of confidence after reading the top stories this morning.

Yesterday, Brian Nichols, 33, who was on trial for rape, stole a gun from the deputy who was escorting him. He then shot her (now in critical condition, but expected to survive) and busted into a courtroom where he held the room at bay. He then fatally shot Judge Barnes and a court reporter. After leaving the building, he fatally shot another deputy.

From there, he went to the parking garage and carjacked about five cars consecutively. I understand that this made the cops’ job harder—it’s hard to keep track of what happened in what order and what car he stole last—but there’s no excuse for this next part.

All day yesterday, Georgian police executed the largest manhunt in that state’s history. Police reported early that they believed a green Honda Accord (with a specific license plate) was the last car stolen and the one he had escaped in.

Now, I red-flagged that in my own analysis of this yesterday. The green Accord was carjacked from the parking garage, police said, and yet there was a report repeated ad-nauseam in the AP feed about people getting carjacked outside. The timeline didn’t seem to make a lot of sense; why would he go back inside the courthouse parking garage to steal a car, instead of taking one of the many on the street?

Well, sure enough, not only were we all looking out for the wrong car, but the green Honda Accord (with the same specific license plate) was discovered by a member of the general public . . . STILL IN THE COURTHOUSE PARKING GARAGE.

Hello?! Any of you cops awake? Seriously now, with such a muddled timeline you would think that the police would at least check the obvious places to make sure the car they thought was the last one stolen wasn’t still sitting around somewhere.

Regardless, Brian Nichols needs to be caught. He’s a cold blooded killer. His picture is all over the media this morning, so pick your favorite outlet and remember his face. Given that he left Atlanta yesterday morning and could have driven straight in any direction, he could easily be almost anywhere.

Think about it. On a straight drive, Atlanta is only about 13 hours from New York City. It’s about the same from Key West, FL. It’s 12 hours to Houston, Texas. Nichols could be in any of those places, and anywhere in-between them. Look out for him; let’s catch this bastard.

Update— Nichols has now been caught, and he was still in the Atlanta area. That does not change the fact that police screw-ups could have allowed this cold-blooded killer to make it halfway across the United States. I’m glad that didn’t happen, but there are obvious problems in police procedure down there that need to be fixed.

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.