Journal De Bruxelles - 'We've got our man': arrest in US shootings of homeless men

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'We've got our man': arrest in US shootings of homeless men

'We've got our man': arrest in US shootings of homeless men

A 30-year-old man with a lengthy criminal record and a history of mental illness was arrested on Tuesday for a string of shootings of homeless men in Washington and New York, police said.

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"We've got our man," Washington police chief Robert Contee announced.

Gerald Brevard III was arrested in Washington at around 2:30 am by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, Contee said.

Brevard, a Washington resident, has been charged with first degree murder, assault with intent to kill, and assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the attacks on homeless men in Washington.

He faces further charges for the shootings of homeless men in New York.

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.

Contee said no motive has been established. "We believe that it's random," he said.

Washington and New York police were able to link the shootings after a police detective in Washington saw a social media post with a picture of the suspect in the New York attacks, the police chief said.

He said Brevard has been arrested on several previous occasions, including for assaulting a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon and several misdemeanors.

In 2019, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Washington for a mental competency hearing to determine if he was fit to stand trial on the assault charge. He was found competent to stand trial.

His father, Gerald Brevard Jr, told The Washington Post that his son had been struggling with mental illness and the family had been trying to get him help.

The authorities in Washington and New York had offered a $70,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest and Contee said the authorities "expect to pay out."

- 'We kept that promise' -

The arrest came just hours after New York Mayor Eric Adams, 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."

"We promised that we'd bring this killer to justice," Adams tweeted. "We kept that promise."

Contee said an "incredible amount of investigative work" had led to Brevard's "swift identification and ultimate apprehension."

"I know people watch CSI and all that kind of stuff and think this happens in 60 minutes, but it's an incredible amount of work to happen in a very short period of time," he said.

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

In one chilling video, the suspect, who was dressed all in black and 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.

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.