A guy was detained early Tuesday on suspicion of following and shooting homeless persons sleeping on the streets of New York City and Washington. At least two individuals were murdered and three others were injured in the attacks, according to police.
Gerald Brevard, the suspect, was arrested in Washington on counts of murder, assault, and other offenses after news of the deaths heightened anxieties among those sleeping on the streets of the two cities and abroad.
The 30-year-old guy, who resides in the Washington region, was charged just with the Washington cases on Tuesday, and not with the New York attacks. Brevard was arrested on Tuesday after a criminal past that included attacking a police officer and assault with a dangerous weapon. Detectives from both New York and Washington were questioning him.
Police in both cities had already publicized a number of surveillance photos, including a closeup of the suspect’s face taken from an ATM security camera in Washington, and begged anybody who knew him to come forward. Ballistic evidence and tips were utilized by investigators to link the shootings, and a tipster phoned police with information regarding the suspect’s identification, according to officials.
Police are currently contacting other places to see whether the individual is involved in any other incidents. Despite the fact that he has yet to be charged in the New York crimes, Metropolitan Investigators Chief Robert Contee stated that police are “quite sure” they have identified the proper culprit.
All of the shootings took place on the same day.
New York Police Department Chief of Detectives James Essig told reporters that 22-caliber bullets, surveillance images and video, as well as witness accounts, all led to a single suspect – a guy wearing unique sneakers, black slacks, and the same face mask.
Morgan Holmes, 54, was named as the Washington victim who died on Tuesday by police. The New York victim’s identity has not been revealed.
According to Essig, New York investigators were in Washington and taking part in questioning with the suspect. However, detectives found no evidence linking the suspect to New York beyond surveillance video and ballistics data, as well as any social media comments or other information indicating a motivation.
During conversations with police, Brevard has given no indication of a motivation, and officials believe he may have targeted the victims at random. Contee explained.
The rapid collaboration between the two police agencies and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was lauded by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Brevard was apprehended by ATF officers at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday before being handed up to Washington cops. They have yet to find a weapon.
“This criminal targeted folks who were homeless with no regard for their lives, but this criminal is no longer on the streets,” Adams said Tuesday. “Gun violence against anyone, much alone our most vulnerable communities, is sick, but individuals facing homelessness may breathe a sigh of relief today owing to the collaboration between several levels of law enforcement and the public’s support.”
Brevard was arrested in July 2018 on assault charges and subsequently pled guilty to attempted assault with a dangerous weapon, according to court documents. In June 2019, he was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial. Brevard was admitted to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a mental hospital in the District, according to records. He was found competent to stand trial a month later. He pled guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail shortly after, according to court documents. However, the conviction was commuted to a suspended term.
Brevard was out on the streets at 2:30 a.m. when he was detained, and investigators are trying to figure out why.
Advocates for the homeless took heart from the arrest, but asked officials in both cities, which have large populations of people without permanent housing, to do more to help them.
“The urgency of assisting individuals to get in off the streets must continue, since this is only the latest illustration of the dangers that people without homes face,” Jacquelyn Simone, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City, said. “This isn’t the first time that people have become victims of violence or even homicide as a result of their living situation.”
On Sunday, investigators in both cities began to suspect a link between the shootings after a Metropolitan Police Department murder captain, a former New York City resident, scrolled through social media and viewed surveillance photographs provided by the New York Police Department on Saturday night.
The individual in those images appeared to be the same as the one wanted by the MPD homicide captain’s department. The quick arrest, according to Contee, was due to departmental collaboration.
According to authorities, the first reported incident occurred about 4 a.m. on March 3 in Washington, when a man was shot in the city’s Northeast district. On March 8, at before 1:30 a.m., a second guy was injured.
Police and firemen discovered Holmes dead inside a blazing tent at 3 a.m. the next day. He was previously supposed to have died as a result of lethal burns, but an examination indicated he died as a result of several knife and gunshot wounds.
According to officials, the assailant then went north to New York City. Around 3:30 a.m., surveillance video captured a guy who detectives suspect is Brevard at Penn Station in Manhattan.
An hour later, a 38-year-old man was shot in the right arm while sleeping on the street in Manhattan near the Holland Tunnel entrance. The shooter left when the victim yelled, according to authorities.
According to authorities, the shooter shot and killed another guy in SoHo about 90 minutes later.
“He had a look around,” Adams explained. “He double-checked that no one was around. And he took the life of an innocent person on purpose.”
Just before 5 p.m. Saturday, the man’s body was discovered in his sleeping bag. According to Julie Bolcer, a representative for the New York City medical examiner’s office, he was shot in the head and neck.
Before officials arrived, the victim had been lying in the street for many hours.
Brevard is believed to have returned to Washington, D.C. shortly after the assaults, according to police.
Kess Abraham, who became homeless last month, said he was “painful” to hear of “a person who lived on the streets who was probably doing his own thing getting murdered for no reason.”
“Anyone among us who is homeless,” Abraham added, may have been the perpetrator.
The most recent attacks echoed the beating murders of four homeless men sleeping on the streets in New York’s Chinatown in the autumn of 2019. Randy Santos, another homeless guy, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the attacks. A year ago, a guy attacked homeless people in the subway system in New York City, stabbing four people, two of whom died. That assailant, who was also homeless, is currently awaiting trial.