Washington, D.C., Metro Police Department Captain Kevin Kentish was scrolling through social media recently when a news story caught his eye.
NYPD had just released a bulletin about a person of interest who was wanted in connection to the March 12 shootings of two homeless people — one of whom was killed after being shot multiple times. Both victims were asleep at the time they were shot.
Kentish sent the photos from the story to his colleagues who were investigating the March 9 killing of a homeless individual in D.C. after police discovered the remains of a man with multiple gunshot and stab wounds. They then reached out to New York police and federal agents to compare the shell casings found at the scenes.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said the evidence led investigators in the different cities to the same perpetrator.
“Our partners at the ATF tested our evidence that was recovered, they tested the evidence that was recovered in New York and we got a hit,” he said.
Metro P.D. investigators were also able to connect the suspect to two other nonfatal shootings in the area.
After appealing to the public for leads in a news conference on March 14, police received an anonymous tip that helped identify the suspect. ATF agents then arrested 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III in D.C. at 2:30 a.m. the next day.
“We’ve got our man,” Contee said during a news conference following the arrest. “This case is an example of what happens when there is good police work, science and community support.”
Brevard was charged with first-degree murder for the killing of 54-year-old Morgan Holmes, and for assault with a dangerous weapon and assault with intent to kill for the nonfatal shootings of two other homeless individuals.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said ballistic evidence and the suspect’s clothing in pictures are a match to Brevard.
“We don’t have enough to make an arrest, we’re working with the Manhattan district attorney, we’re gathering all our evidence,” Essig said. “I’m very confident we’ll get there.”
Essig said they are compiling more evidence from surveillance camera footage across the city to track the suspect’s activities while he was there.
Brevard has not offered a motive for the crimes so far, but his family says he has a mental illness and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, in addition to being charged with assault and battery several times in the past, and most recently with credit card theft.
The shootings highlight the dangers faced by homeless people, who are at increased risk of being victims of crime, and the continuing need for housing solutions.
“You’re kind of taken aback and you’re shocked that someone can commit such a jarring act against a defenseless person,” Essig said.