Journal De Bruxelles - Arrest in shootings of homeless in NY, Washington

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Arrest in shootings of homeless in NY, Washington
Arrest in shootings of homeless in NY, Washington

Arrest in shootings of homeless in NY, Washington

A suspect in a series of "cold-blooded" shootings of homeless men in Washington and New York was arrested on Tuesday after an intensive manhunt, police said.

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The man was taken into custody in southeast Washington in the early hours of the morning, police said, and was being interviewed by homicide detectives.

Police did not identify the suspect but The New York Times identified him as Gerald Brevard, a 30-year-old Washington resident with a history of mental illness.

The newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said Brevard had a criminal record of misdemeanors and felonies and was temporarily committed in 2019 to a psychiatric hospital in Washington.

The authorities in Washington and New York had offered a $70,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man behind the shootings of five homeless men over the past two weeks.

"We promised that we'd bring this killer to justice," New York Mayor Eric Adams said in a tweet. "We kept that promise. Thank you to all of our partners in law enforcement for their good work."

The arrest came just hours after Adams and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and the police chiefs of the two cities held a joint news conference to appeal to the public for information about a man they called a "cold-blooded killer."

- Shot while asleep -

The shootings, which took place between March 3 and March 12, left two homeless men dead and three wounded. Three of the shootings took place in Washington and two in New York.

Police had released multiple photos and video of the man wanted for stalking and shooting homeless men while they slept on the streets.

The images were of a tall, shaven-headed and bearded man dressed all in black.

In one chilling video, the man, who was wearing blue surgical gloves and a black balaclava, kicks a man wrapped in a yellow sleeping bag, looks around and then opens fire with a pistol.

The Washington police had offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The New York police offered another $25,000 and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) put up $20,000.

At their press conference on Monday, the mayors of New York and Washington had urged the tens of thousands of homeless people on the streets of their cities to seek shelter.

Adams announced a plan just weeks after taking office in January to move homeless people out of the city's vast subway system, where many sleep on frigid nights.

But it drew sharp criticism from non-government organizations, who said that in the absence of housing, the subway is the place where homeless New Yorkers feel the most safe.

In October 2019, a homeless man wielding a metal pipe beat four other homeless people to death in New York and left a fifth man in critical condition.

A.Thys--JdB