ATLANTA - A court reporter killed during a deadly rampage at the Fulton County Courthouse received a special honor Friday.
Julie Brandau died in 2005 when Brian Nichols overpowered a deputy and shot and killed Brandau, a judge, a deputy and a federal agent.
A court reporter in California saw Brandau’s dog, Heidi, at the funeral and decided to start collecting donations to turn shelter dogs into rescue dogs in her honor.
“She taught her bird to say 'kitty kitty' to her cat and Heidi, her golden retriever, attended her funeral. Heidi was her best friend,” court reporter Evelyn Parker said.
Eight dogs are now in service across the country in honor of Brandau. Each cost about $10,000 to train. The dogs serve at various fire departments and with other rescue groups in Brandau’s honor.
“They’ve done so much for us in Julie’s memory and so it’s an honor and amazing experience to be here,” rescue dog handler Laurel Pitman said.
On Friday, during a ceremony honoring Brandau, officials unveiled a picture of a dog named Justice, near the picture already honoring Brandau and the others killed in 2005 at the courthouse.
The honor is bittersweet for those who worked closely with the victims.
“It took me four or five years not to think about that event every day. On a day like today, I can just be happy that she will live on with this kind of memory because she was beautiful inside and out,” Parker said.
“It’s just a lot of emotions and it brings it back. I would think she would be so proud. I think she’s smiling down on us,” court reporter Cheryl Gilliam said.