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'We got our man' | SE DC resident arrested, charged in 5 shootings of homeless men in DC, NYC

Gerald Brevard III was arrested in SE DC and is charged with first-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill and assault with a dangerous weapon.

WASHINGTON — DC Police have arrested and charged a 30-year-old man in connection to multiple attacks on men experiencing homelessness in the District and New York City. The man arrested allegedly shot five men between March 3-12 in D.C. and NYC, two of whom died. 

Gerald Brevard III was arrested around 3 a.m. Tuesday in the 2700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, D.C. He is charged with first-degree murder while armed, assault with intent to kill and assault with a dangerous weapon for three shootings in D.C. MPD Chief Robert Contee said additional charges are anticipated in connection to the NYC attacks.

The arrest brought a multi-state manhunt to a close.

“We know that this experience has been especially scary for our residents experiencing homelessness," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. "Our work continues to end homelessness and ensure all residents have access to safe and affordable housing." 

Contee said an anonymous tip provided to DC Police Monday afternoon combined with a social media post from Brevard and images captured by an ATM near Union Station, police were able to begin canvassing the District for their suspect. The chief also acknowledged the work of Captain Kevin Kentish, head of the homicide branch in D.C. who is a New York native, for spotting connections between the attacks in NYC and D.C. 

“This case is an example of what happens there is good police work, science and community support," Contee said. "It’s a demonstration of how quickly we can close homicide cases when all three of those things are working together."

According to Contee, the first attack happened on March 3 when an unhoused man was shot in the 1100 block of New York Avenue. Contee said the crime did not raise a flag of concern as a pattern hadn't appeared yet and the victim said he did not know why he was shot but that he believed it may have been part of a robbery. 

At 1:21 a.m. on March 8, police responded to the 1700 block of H Street, Northeast for a report of a shooting. They found a man on the scene who was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  

Contee explained that the third attack resulted in the death of another man on March 9. That incident reportedly happened just before 3 a.m. in the 400 block of New York Avenue. Contee said the victim had thermal burns from his tent being set on fire. The victim died after being shot and stabbed. 

The police chief identified the deceased victim in the March 9 attack as 54-year-old Morgan Holmes.  

Two additional attacks occurred in New York City in the early morning hours of March 12. Both involved men were experiencing homelessness and sleeping on the street and were shot, without provocation, by a male suspect, police said. 

Around 4:30 a.m., a man was shot in the arm while sleeping on King Street near Varick Street in New York, police said. Later that day at 5 p.m., NYPD said they responded to a 911 call for another man suffering from gunshot wounds to the head and neck. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Contee said the cases in the District and NYC were linked together after Captain Kentish saw a picture of the suspect on social media from NYPD. After reviewing the description and evidence with their team, officials contacted federal law enforcement and linked the cases together forensically.  

"We know that our unsheltered residents already face a lot of daily dangers and it is unconscionable that anybody would target this vulnerable population," Bowser said.

The chief did say his team has not recovered a firearm in the case, which was mentioned in an earlier NYPD press conference as the reason for charges not being filed in the two NYC attacks. 

"Based on all the evidence we've pulled together in this case, the video evidence, the images that we've seen, I am very confident that this is the person," Contee said. "We feel we have enough probable cause to charge that person with the crimes that occurred here in the District of Columbia."

Brevard has not offered a motive in the attacks, according to Contee, but the chief said his department believes they were random attacks.

According to the director of D.C.'s Department of Behavioral Health, Barbara Bazron, Brevard was enrolled in services at one of their agencies in 2018 and was treated at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in 2019 for a competency assessment. Bazron said he was found to be competent to participate in his defense and was released back to jail. Contee added that Brevard was arrested in D.C. multiple times, dating back to 2016. In 2018, Contee said Brevard was arrested for assaulting an officer as well as another arrest on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon (knife). 

In a press conference relating to a separate case Tuesday, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said Brevard also had a history of arrest in Virginia. Davis said Brevard was charged with abduction with attempt to defile, burglary and possession of burglary tools in December 2020.

"Hindsight is always 20-20," Davis said. "I know that we are going to go back in time and take a look at the arrests we made and if there are any lessons or conversations that need to be hade from that, we're certainly willing to have them." 

The NYPD, the MPDC and the ATF joined forces to investigate the offenses. The partnership brought the total possible reward amount to $70,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible. Contee said he expects to "payout in this case" following a conviction due to the importance of the anonymous tip that led to an arrest. 

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