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Alleged Midtown Shooter Undergoes Psychological Evaluation

Nkosi Thandiwe, who worked as a security guard, is charged in the triple shooting that killed Decatur resident Brittney Watts and injured two others.

The security guard accused of killing Decatur resident Brittney Watts and shooting two others in Midtown last week, is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, according to his lawyer.

The attorney, Ricky Richardson, told Patch Thursday that the evaluation of suspect Nkosi Thandiwe, 22, is likely to force the postponement of a scheduled appearance by his client in Fulton County Magistrate Court on July 29.

“I think the case will be continued until there is a medical evaluation that is appropriate in this case,” Richardson said. “And pending the medical professionals’ findings, we will proceed to our next step.”

Thandiwe is charged with murder in the shooting of Brittany Watts, 26, of Decatur, in the Proscenium building's parking deck on July 15. Atlanta police say he stole the victim's Prius and shot two other women as he fled the parking deck at 14th Street and Crescent Avenue. The car was later found in southwest Atlanta.

The shooting left 23-year-old Lauren Garcia paralyzed, and the Shepherd Center in Buckhead confirms that she was transferred to its intensive care unit. Another victim, Tiffany Ferenczy, 24, was shot in the leg and is expected to recover fully.

Thandiwe turned himself into law enforcement authorities later Friday afternoon. Police said he realized that he had been identified.

Friends and acquaintances of the suspect have expressed shock. They describe Thandiwe as coming from a well-respected family of high achievers and avid recreational runners.

But none of those contacted by Patch would discuss the case publicly out of respect to the family.

The Thandiwes live in a modest one-story house with a well-kept yard off Campbellton Road, where a stack of newspapers, including editions of the New York Times and Atlanta Business Chronicle, sat in a box by the front door.

Police officials have said little about Thandiwe, who was a security guard at the Proscenium building. Court records list him as living at his parents' home.

The security firm that employed him, Allied Barton Security Services, told tenants at the Proscenium that a pre-employment background check did not turn up any criminal past. The firm told tenants he had good references, a college education and that he "was in good standing with Allied."

It's unclear if there was any connection between the victim, who had worked at the Midtown office tower for about a month, and Thandiwe.

Thandiwe’s father, Iilonga, is a computer engineer, whose name has appeared on a variety of patent applications. His mother, Lynnae, is an attorney in a private practice, according to the State Bar of Georgia's online directory.

A search of federal court records shows that during her career, Lynnae Thandiwe handled multiple federal prison cases for the Southern Center for Human Rights, the anti-death penalty legal advocacy group.

According to an online biography, she is a graduate of Stanford University and the law school at the University of California at Berkeley.

The Thandiwes’ four children attended Atlanta public schools, according to the parents of classmates. Nkosi’s brother, Nthando, was a national honor society graduate of Benjamin E. Mays High School, according to a news release announcing a scholarship award for the sibling from the National Black Marathoners Association.

A sister, Nyamezela, placed second in the first Atlanta Brain Bee in 2001.

The family is well known in the community for their love of running.

Richardson, the attorney for Nkosi Thandiwe, declined to discuss details about the case or his client beyond the fact that a mental evaluation is under way.

Thandiwe is being held without bail in the Fulton County Jail.

Stacie Murphy July 22, 2011 at 06:26 PM
They need to check him for substance abuse first! And it does not matter whether he was psychotic when he did what he did. A family lost a wonderful woman and nothing will ever bring her back.
Stacie Murphy July 22, 2011 at 06:28 PM
My heart goes out to his family as well. They probably are at a loss trying to figure out why he did what he did.
Dominique Huff July 22, 2011 at 07:04 PM
I am curious to what made him "snap" as well. From reports, it does not appear that this is a case of "sour grapes" over a romantic breakup. Mental Illness is something that we must address before it gets too out of control. I am reserving future opinions and comments on the actual crime until more details are revealed. Great reporting Patch!!
Prince Jody Berry July 23, 2011 at 08:15 PM
i went to school with this man.. and its hard to believe and know that this has happened... i pray for the family of the ones hurt and killed but also for his family because i know them well and they are great people.. very loving and caring and its hard to believe and understand this
Yolande M. Minor July 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM
My heart goes out to both families. Absolute tragedy for this to happen. Excellent story !!
Linz July 25, 2011 at 05:04 AM
He is a murderer! Brittney was an innocent young woman with a promising future and was full of love. I don't care what his mental state is! He killed an innocent girl, paralyzed another and shot another! He deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Can't believe the sympathy for this monster.
Yolande M. Minor July 25, 2011 at 02:53 PM
A mental illness can lead one to do horrific things unexplainable. Something triggered him to shoot innocent people without provocation. Under pressure the mind can "snap". My heart goes out to all the families involved in this tragedy !!!
Gloria Poe July 28, 2011 at 12:13 PM
I am so sorry that you do not care what his mental state was!
Yolande M. Minor July 30, 2011 at 02:52 PM
I am not an attorney. However, mental illness can lead one to do horrific things, unexplainable. Under pressure, the mind can "snap".
American Voice August 01, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Very very sad. I hurt for all families involved but especially my heart ache for Brittany's family. She did not deserve to be shot down like animal. Yes, I agree with you Yolande mental illness is rampant in our country. And unfortunatley, this type of incident will happen again, and again, and again.... God Help America. A country that lives by the sword!!!
RGS in Tenn August 10, 2011 at 02:53 AM
My knowledge of this case is sketchy and from few sources, si I hope that those of you who know it better will bear wth me. Yolande is correct that insanity produces atrocities, and so does substance abuse. To be fair, we must first determine if either or both excuses apply to Thandiwe. If one or both does he must be locked up for life in a mental institution, so that no relapse may produce another tragedy. I would also like to confirm or rule out some things that I have read about this man: 1. Was he carrying the pistol legally? If he had a permit, was he allowed by his employer to carry it on the job.? 2. If it was legal and allowed, did he always or usually carry it on the job? Were his coworkers and supervisors aware that he was armed? 3. If not, then the fact that he brought the weapon on that day shows intent to shoot someone with it. 4. Is there evidence that he targeted Mrs. Watts? Did he in fact watch for her approach to the parking garage, and then hurry to her parking area and lie in wait for her? If 3 is the case and the answers to 4 are yes then it seems to me that he had to plan the attack well in advance and take concrete and internally consistent steps to carry it out; if that is the case how can mental incapacity or the influence of drugs be believed as an excuse?
Levi Jones September 22, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Very sad indeed, Americans love their guns, and always will be the most violent 1st world country. it surprises me that i see so many mass shootings, and yet, never once does one say anything about gun control, i know some redneck will say something about it is his god given right, no it is the right of the gun lobbyiest not to loose millions of dollars, but this is the price you pay, everyday in this country.
Reality & Logic September 26, 2011 at 04:19 PM
Levi Jones, Americans don't "love their guns." That's an odd statement. Some Americans have guns because they understandably fear for their lives, because there are too many useless pukes such as Thandiwe lurking! Thandiwe, is a cold-blooded killer. Face the facts. Thandiwe murdered this innocent young woman. MURDERED. Pre-meditated. All this talk about gun control and mental illness is without merit. This man deserves no consideration other than the death penalty. Too bad the police didn't shoot this maggot instead of arresting him. Now he'll cost taxpayers millions! Ugh. Thandiwe, is a worthless piece of shiit. He's probably from a third world African country that's populated by a lot of other retarded maggots just like he is, and that's the way they spend their days....murdering, raping children, beating women, robbing, and all manner of other TRULY DISGUSTING things that are just part of the lifestyle in those places. How did he get into the country in the first place? According to news stories, Thandiwe's parents are supposedly "high achieving" professionals. That's really hard to believe. Illegals from sub-Saharan Africa is more likely.
Ray Metoyer September 27, 2011 at 05:06 AM
FransSusan-- your assumptions about Thandiwe and Africa are incorrect, offensive, and very revealing about your state of mind. You sound like someone who's about to snap, with all of that hate inside you. There is no defending what he did, but his actions were totally out of character for the young man that many friends of his family watched grow up. They are not illegals from Sub-Saharan Africa, but a respected family in their community. His parents were just as stunned as the rest of Atlanta. Something did snap that day-- he seemed to just lose it. As for your comments about Sub-Saharan Africa, you're confusing the actions of armies fighting during civil wars-- with normal behavior. There is nothing normal about wars and most people in Africa do NOT spend their days murdering, raping, robbing and so on. You should know better. But you should also know about the hellish nature of war if you've studied what happened in Europe during WWI and WWII-- the vicious actions by German armies, including raping, robbing and murdering of Jews and others that the Nazis deemed to be beneath the so-called "Master Race"! And don't forget the "ethnic cleansing" wars between the Bosnians and the Serbs in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990's. The barbaric actions you describe are not limited to Africa or any one continent on this earth. Those things happen when people are at war. Your assumptions about Africa have nothing to do with this tragic case.
Harold Bingham February 01, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Well what do you know Ray, he admits he just hates white people and thought he would kill some of them. Where did he get the idea according to him? College classes. But I know, I know, I should focus more on healing this young man than crying over spilled milk. Leonard Pitts would surely tell me to "cry him a river" if I made too much of dead white people. Apparently we all have it coming. Even Brittany Watts, who according to friends was "very accepting of all people" was still not off the hook because she had white skin. I guess I'll just get in line and wait my turn with the rest of the white people.
Ray Metoyer February 01, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Harold, what makes you think I made any excuses for the murder of Brittany Watts or the shooting of the other victims? I'm as angry as you that this precious life was wasted! She could have been my daughter! What I've said is people who knew Nkosi Thandiwe say he was a good kid from a good family who wasn't raised in an environment of hate. But one day he snapped, had a breakdown, and went to work and committed murder. He doesn't know why he did it, but he needs to be held accountable for his actions. PERIOD. It is a terrible tragedy for ALL of the families and I can't imagine what any of them is going through. I thank God that I've been spared that kind of pain. Brittany Watts didn't deserve to be murdered for any reason; let alone because she was white. She was a beautiful human being whose life was taken away by a guy who lost his mind. But again we come back to the mental health issue; another crazy guy with a gun, like at Virginia Tech, or the Aurora movie theater, or Sandy Hook elementary school. It makes no sense to sane people who appreciate and respect human life. There is no plan by blacks to murder whites in America that I'm aware of. But if there was one, I'd fight to stop it any way I could because I respect life. Murder is murder and it's wrong for any reason. I only hope you feel as strongly about existing hate groups like the KKK that have a history of killing people just because they were the wrong color.

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