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'I'm glad it's over' | Relative says suspect in attack on homeless men suffered from mental illness for many years

30-year-old Gerald Brevard III also has a long criminal record that shows an escalation of violence.

WASHINGTON — WUSA9 is learning more about the man police said was behind a 2-state crime spree, shooting 5 people sleeping on the street, killing two of them. 

Family members said they knew 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III suffered from mental illness for a very long time and had run-ins with the law, but he was never violent. 

His older cousin Rosaline Law describes him as an introvert, kind and respectful but a person who didn’t talk much. Law said she was following the story and even saw the suspect pictures police released and thought it looked like her cousin, but she said when news reports referenced New York, it “threw her off” because she didn’t think he traveled to New York City. 

Her fears and suspicions were confirmed when she received a call from relatives Tuesday after Brevard’s 2:30 AM arrest.  

Surveillance video from the Mobile gas station at 2305 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE shows the dramatic moments when the 30-year-old surrendered to police. The video shows ATF agents jumping out of their cars and Brevard raising his hands and dropping to the ground. Several agents quickly surround and handcuff him.  

“I was glad that it was over,” said Law. “I’m glad, whoever it was being it my family member or whoever, that was over because nobody deserves that…homeless or anybody, nobody deserves that.”

The arrest happened just blocks from his Southeast home he shares with Law’s 80-year-old mother.

“Every time I came over to see my mom, he was smiling very respectable, but he didn’t really talk a lot. He cared for my mom a lot. He suffered from mental illness for a long time. So, she (my mom) took him in and gave him a chance to get himself together but if you don’t get help it’s going to keep going to the next level.”

In fact, WUSA9 has learned the 30-year-old has an extensive criminal record. Court documents seem to show his behavior did escalate over the years from misdemeanor unlawful entry in D.C. back in 2016 to assault with a deadly weapon. 

According to court records, Brevard served seven months behind bars for that 2018 assault and was added to the Behavioral Health Department Services. But then in March 2020, he was charged with abduction and assault and battery in Fairfax County and released on one-year supervised probation.   

“If the judicial system gave the people the help that they need then maybe it won’t get to this next level,” said Law, “We just ask for prayers for the families our family as well as the family members and the people this happened to.” 

In the meantime, WUSA9 reached out to Catholic Charities which operates the two mens' shelters in Northeast closest to the crime scenes. CEO Father John said the shelters are safe and its doors are open for anyone who is still frightened.

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

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