United States: Suspect arrested for murder of homeless people in Washington and New York

Relief on the American East Coast. While a hunt had begun in New York and Washington, United States, for a man accused of a series of nighttime attacks on sleeping homeless people, a suspect was arrested in the federal capital on Tuesday. He “is currently being questioned,” police said.

According to US media, relying on anonymous police sources, it is Gerald Brevard III, a 30-year-old man who suffers from psychiatric disorders and who has various forms of fraud and attacks on his criminal record. “He has suffered from mental illness for a long time and has been hospitalized several times,” his father Gerald Brevard Jr. to the Daily Beast newspaper. But I never thought he would get violent. †

Earlier, police released images of the suspect, offering thousands of dollars in rewards. “A ruthless killer is out there, but we’re going to arrest him and put him in jail,” the Democratic mayors of the two metropolises said in a joint statement.

He is responsible, according to authorities, for at least five attacks that were committed “in cold blood” with “the same modus operandi” on men who were sleeping in the street. To make sure he wouldn’t inflict other casualties, the investigators reached out to their colleagues across the country, having reported New York Chief of Police Keechant Sewell. The homeless are already “fighting for survival on a daily basis,” she noted, promising to arrest their executioner “quickly.”

Gunshots and daggers

The first two attacks took place on March 3 and 8 in the northeast of the American capital. The victims, who were shot, survived. Wednesday 9 still in Washington, emergency services intervened because a homeless person’s tent was on fire. Inside, they found the body of a dead man. The autopsy revealed that he succumbed to multiple gunshots and stab wounds.

According to investigators, the killer then traveled to New York, about 400 km to the north. Early Saturday morning, a 38-year-old man was shot but found alive in lower Manhattan. In the late afternoon, police found another man in the same neighborhood, this time dead, with head and neck injuries. According to CCTV footage, he was killed around 6 a.m.

These images show a man dressed in black, his head covered with a hood and his hands in blue gloves. He walks around a man bundled up in a yellow sleeping bag, kicks him lightly to make sure he’s asleep, looks around before firing. According to Robert Contee, Washington’s chief of police, seeing these images has helped one of his investigators establish a connection between the two series of attacks, which he says is “huge” progress.

Every night, thousands of people sleep on the streets of New York, and the Democratic mayor announced a plan in February to evict those who settle in the massive underground subway network. Eric Adams was responding to a series of crimes that made headlines, including the death of a woman who was pushed onto the subway tracks by a mentally ill homeless man.

The associations for the defense of the homeless, hostile to this project, have given it some of the responsibility in the recent tragedies. The homeless “are much more likely to be victims of crime than their perpetrators,” notably responded to the Coalition for the Homeless, calling on the mayor to “recognize that his policies endanger them.” The latter refused to get involved in the controversy, limiting itself to declaring that “there is nothing dignified about sleeping on subway platforms”.

In Washington, the number of homeless people has also risen since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with associations accusing authorities of dismantling several camps, sometimes not far from the White House, the seat of the presidency. Troi, a 53-year-old African-American who has lived on the streets for five years, met AFP at a shelter near Congress and said he was struck by this wave of crimes, but was not surprised: “It hurts when it happens. close to you”, but “so many negative things happen to homeless people…”