WASHINGTON (AP) — A man suspected of shooting five homeless people in Washington and New York — killing two of them — appeared to be holding a phone and playing music after shooting one of the victims and was nabbed when a longtime friend identified after police linked the cases through ballistics evidence, phone records and the suspect’s social media posts, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Gerald Brevard, 30, was sentenced to detention without bond after appearing before a Washington judge on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Morgan Holmes, 54, who was found shot and stabbed inside of a burning tent in Washington. this month. Brevard has not been formally charged in the other Washington shootings or the New York affairs.
Prosecutors allege Brevard escalated his violence as he stalked and shot sleeping homeless people on the streets in both cities over a 10-day period. The first known shooting occurred around 4 a.m. on March 3 in Washington, police said, when a man was injured in the northeast section of the city.
A second man was injured on March 8, just before 1:30 a.m. During that shooting, surveillance video captures a man shouting “no, no, no” and “please don’t shoot” after a shot was fired, according to court documents. . Video shows the suspect minutes after the shooting sitting on a sidewalk about a block away and playing music from a mobile device, according to court documents.
In court on Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Tanya Jones Bosier pointed to the allegation as one of multiple reasons for detaining Brevard without bail, saying he allegedly played music “as if there was some kind of amusement” after shooting.
At around 3 a.m. the next day, police and firefighters found Holmes dead inside a burning tent. He was initially thought to have suffered fatal burns, but an autopsy revealed he died from multiple stab wounds and bullet wounds. Surveillance video showed the suspect pouring gasoline into a cup at a nearby gas station about 30 minutes before the fire was discovered, prosecutors said.
According to court documents, the fatal shooting and the first incident occurred within half a mile of each other and within two miles of the second injury.
“This is a disturbing escalation of violent behavior, especially against people who are already vulnerable because they live on the streets,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Santiago.
Brevard, she said, carried out “unprovoked attacks on people living on the streets”.
Less than an hour after Holmes’ body was discovered, the suspect entered Washington’s Union Station and remained inside the station until he boarded a train around 6 a.m. 15, according to court documents.
Police believe Brevard then traveled to upstate New York. Surveillance video showed a man who investigators believe is Brevard at Penn Station in Manhattan around 3:30 a.m. on March 12.
An hour later, a 38-year-old man sleeping rough in Manhattan near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel was shot in the right arm as he slept. The victim screamed and the shooter fled, police said. About 90 minutes later, the gunman fatally shot and killed another man in SoHo, police said. The man’s body was found in his sleeping bag shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday. He had been shot in the head and neck, said Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the New York medical examiner’s office.
Police identified Brevard after a tipster who knew him called and provided his name, phone number and Instagram profile. Brevard also posted photos on Instagram showing him wearing a black padded jacket, similar to the one worn by the suspect in two of the shootings.
Police also obtained phone records showing Brevard was in Washington and New York when the shooting occurred. Ballistic evidence linked the New York and Washington cases, prosecutors said.
He was arrested by federal agents early Tuesday morning in Washington.
Brevard’s attorney, Ron Resetarits, argued in court that his client should be released due to conflicting statements about the suspect’s description given by witnesses in New York and Washington. He also pointed to the fact that police did not recover a firearm in the case.
His client, he said, has lived in the Washington area for more than 20 years and has worked at various businesses, including a wine store, nightclub, bagel shop and restaurants. But prosecutors alleged Brevard had a long criminal history in Washington, Virginia and Maryland for charges of assaulting a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon. He also had a warrant for his arrest and did not appear for trial in Maryland in 2021, prosecutors said.
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