WASHINGTON — DC Police say a suspect is in custody in connection with the attacks on people experiencing homelessness in the District and New York City.
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.
Three attacks happened in D.C. between March 3-9 within two miles of the city’s largest men’s shelters in Northeast: The New York Avenue Shelter, which houses 300 men each night, and Adam’s Place which houses 180 men each night, according to Catholic Charities.
The suspect was captured on surveillance camera unmasked and walking in the 400 block of New York Avenue, NE in the early morning hours of March 9. Police said he approached a man sleeping in his tent then stabbed, shot and set him on fire. Chief Contee identified the deceased victim as 54-year-old Morgan Holmes.
NYPD and MPD believe the same man was captured on surveillance camera shooting a sleeping man to death on the streets of downtown Manhattan, as well as shooting another man in the arm while he was sleeping earlier that same day. Police linked the cases through matching ballistics.
“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."
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and NYC Mayor Eric Adams hosted a joint press conference Monday evening asking for any tips, and offering a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, while advocates walked the streets Monday urging at-risk communities to seek safe shelters.
"A lot of them don’t have access to TV, so we’re passing out a few flyers so they can pass word along and they can all watch their backs when they’re out here,” DC Police Officer Jaques Colkely said.
One of the resources Bowser shared in the press conference is free transportation to homeless shelters. To be taken to a nearby shelter, unhoused residents can call (202) 399-7092 or 311.
D.C. resident Harry Jefferson has been experiencing homelessness for the past five years, and while he spends his days on D.C. streets, often in Ivy City, he says you won’t catch him out at night.
“I don’t like sleeping on the streets,” Jefferson said.“I feel safer in a shelter.”
Catholic Charities says from now on the doors of both Adam's Place and The New York Avenue Shelter will remain locked and security officers will be on high alert.
“It’s a crime against our humanity, against our family,” the CEO of Catholic Charities, Monsignor John Enzler -- or Father John -- said.
Father John said attacks on the unhoused are part of a bigger problem.
“It says we have work to do,” he explained. "Not the work of just charity. All of us should be involved in making sure we take care of those in need.”
Jesse Rabinowitz, the Advocacy and Policy Director of Miriam’s Kitchen, said advocates will hold police and elected officials accountable to not only solve these attacks but solve the growing epidemic of homelessness in D.C.
“This violence is a natural byproduct of a country and a society that continues to dehumanize, degrade, and defame people living without housing,” Rabinowitz said. “DC has a budget of over $17 billion. We can afford to end homelessness. We know how to do it. We have social service providers that want to do it. And we have the money. What we're lacking is the political will and the leadership to make it happen.”
While Rabinowitz said the city has made progress, he believes there is still a lot of work to do to make ending homelessness a reality. Bowser is expected to present her 2023 budget Wednesday, and Miriam’s Kitchen has asked for $26 million to end homelessness for 500 individuals and 260 families.
Police are offering a $70,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect, who can be seen in the below photos, released by MPD.