This week, a gunman shot two unhoused New Yorkers in lower Manhattan, killing one. Authorities believe the same person had committed three other attacks on unhoused men — one of them fatal — days earlier in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, a suspect was arrested in the shootings. Here’s what we know so far about these heinous crimes.
The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday morning that it had arrested a suspect in the shootings and was interviewing him. A spokeswoman from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the New York Times that ATF agents arrested the suspect in Southeast Washington at around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The Times reports that the suspect is 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III, a Washington, D.C., resident, according to law-enforcement sources. Court records show Brevard had previously been charged with assault multiple times and has a history of criminal charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies in Virginia and Washington. A court ruled in 2019 that Brevard was mentally incompetent, and he was committed to a city psychiatric hospital for a period of time.
On Monday night, the Metropolitan Police released photos of the suspect and offered a hefty cash reward for information. With the pattern of shootings in New York and Washington established, the mayors of both cities solicited help from the public in finding the gunman. Authorities had warned unhoused people of the danger of sleeping on the street, though many still preferred to take their chances rather than move to a shelter.
Two shootings in lower Manhattan
On March 12, the NYPD held a press conference on two attacks in lower Manhattan earlier that day.
Police responded to a call at around 4:30 a.m. at King and Varick Streets, where they found a 38-year-old unhoused man with a gunshot wound to his right forearm. The man had been shot by an unknown assailant as he slept; he woke up and reportedly screamed, “What are you doing?” and the perpetrator fled the scene. The victim was transported to Bellevue Hospital and is in stable condition.
An unidentified man was later found in a sleeping bag with gunshot wounds to his neck and head at 5 p.m. on Lafayette Street near the intersection of Soho and Nolita. He was declared dead at the scene. Video showed an unknown gunman approaching the man at 6 a.m., firing a weapon, and fleeing. The police department later shared images of the shooter from the footage.
Mayor Eric Adams called the case “horrific” and asked for the public’s assistance in identifying the gunman.
“The video is chilling. To see a cold-blooded act of murder. Homelessness turning into a homicide,” Adams said. “We need to find this person and we need New Yorkers to help us.”
A third unhoused man who was found dead in Manhattan on Sunday evening was initially believed to have been shot and thus possibly connected to the other attacks. But police said Monday that his death may have been the result of a drug overdose.
Three attacks in Washington, D.C.
On March 13, the Metropolitan Police Department asked the public for help identifying a suspect in three shootings over the course of several days involving individuals experiencing homelessness. All took place in Northeast Washington.
On March 3, an unhoused man was found around 4 a.m. with gunshot wounds. He was later taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
On March 8, D.C. police officers were called to the scene of another shooting at 1:21 a.m., where they discovered another man who had been wounded by gunfire. He was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The next day, March 9, an officer witnessed a tent fire. After the fire was put out, the remains of an adult man were discovered. An autopsy from the medical examiner determined the cause of death to be several gunshot and stab wounds, and the death was ruled a homicide.
One suspect for two cities
Following its initial report on the three cases, the Metropolitan Police Department issued a joint announcement with the NYPD revealing that the two departments believe that the crimes in both cities are linked and were committed by the same perpetrator. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting in the investigation.
“As our law enforcement agencies work quickly with federal partners to locate the suspect, we are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter,” said Adams and Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser in a joint statement. “Again, it is heartbreaking and tragic to know that in addition to all the dangers that unsheltered residents face, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose, but we are certain that we will get the suspect off the street and into police custody.”
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee III told reporters that a D.C. police captain on the homicide division, a Queens native, noticed the story of the attacks in his hometown, saw an image of the suspect, and raised the possibility of a connection to the crimes that occurred in D.C. Ballistics later confirmed a link between the five cases.