New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Washington, D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser partnered with both their respective police forces and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms to track down a potential serial killer who targeted homeless men in a series of shootings. In a presser, the mayors gathered in D.C. to disseminate information to the public and call for urgency in catching the suspect.
Both mayors pleaded with the public to come forward with help in identifying the suspect from photos recently released, and offered a $70,000 in total reward for information. As of Tuesday “early morning,” the Metropolitan Police (MPD) arrested the suspect in D.C.
The suspect was identified as 30-year-old Gerald Brevard, reported The Associated Press. Brevard lives in the Washington area, and has a criminal history that includes an assault arrest, said the AP.
In statements Adams and Bowser credited swift interagency cooperation with multiple cities and the federal government for bringing the suspect into custody on Tuesday morning.
“Excellent detective work, teamwork with our partners from the Metropolitan Police in D.C. at the ATF and the FBI, culminated in the arrest of the suspect in five shootings, including two murders of homeless men in New York City and Washington, D.C.,” said New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell in a statement following the arrest. “People experiencing homelessness have many worries to cope with every day. Tonight, they will have one less.”
Between March 3 and March 9, three men were shot in D.C. resulting in one death. This weekend, at least two men were shot in New York City also resulting in one death. All victims were unhoused males, outside or sleeping alone in the early morning at the time of the shootings.
“Homelessness should not mean homicide,” said Adams in Monday’s meeting. “This was a coldblooded attack.”
The first victim was found around 4 a.m. with gunshot wounds. MPD Chief Robert J. Contee III said that it didn’t raise flags right away. The second victim was found with gunshot wounds around 1:21 a.m. by MPD, and then around 2:54 a.m. a third victim’s remains were found with multiple stab and gunshot wounds. The third victim’s body and tent were also burned, said MPD.
Contee said that a police homicide detective working the case, Captain Kevin Kentish, is originally from Queens and made a connection to the recent shootings of two homeless men in New York City via social media.
On Saturday, in the early morning a 38-year-old man sleeping on the street in Manhattan was shot in the right arm, and about 90 minutes later, another homeless man was fatally shot in his sleeping bag, said the AP.
Based on images and other evidence they forensically linked the shootings in both cities, and narrowed in on one suspect with one gun in both cities. The suspect’s mental state or motive hasn’t been made public as of Tuesday afternoon.
Adams described the suspect’s actions as “premeditated” and “intentional” in terminating “innocent lives” and that the shooting incidents highlight gun violence in both cities. He said that neither New York City or D.C. are gun manufacturing cities but have been victims of the iron pipeline, or the flow of guns into communities.
“The overproliferation of guns in our cities is creating an encounter that’s causing bloodshed across our nation. It is time to stop this fixation with guns,” said Adams at the meeting. “There are too many guns on our streets.”
In the meeting, Adams bristled at the “insinuation” that the recent order to concentrate on moving homeless individuals out of the subway system in New York City would contribute to “some sick mind of shooting them.” “It’s something I’m just not going to entertain,” said Adams. Bowser said it was “unconscionable” to attack a vulnerable population and that homeless persons are being encouraged to seek shelter in D.C. She concurred with the sentiment of being a ‘right-to-shelter’ city. “We know that this experience has been especially scary for our residents experiencing homelessness,” said Bowser in a later statement.
Bowser said that the work continues to end homelessness and ensure all residents have access to safe and affordable housing as well as solving the gun violence crisis in communities.
Said Contee in a statement following the arrest, “I want to personally thank our community members who submitted tips and information in this case and thank our law enforcement partners for their tireless efforts in bringing this individual to justice.”
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w