Suspect in custody in series of attacks on homeless men in NYC and D.C., police say

A man who authorities say may be linked to a series of shootings  including two slayings — of homeless men in Washington, D.C., and New York City is in custody, according to Washington police.

The suspect was captured early Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Capt. Darren Haskis said. A senior law enforcement official identified him as 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III.

Details on how officers found Brevard and the charges against him were not immediately available, but the official told NBC News he has a criminal history that includes an alleged assault on a woman in Virginia.

His lengthy criminal history dates back to at least 2009, records show. He has been charged with assault, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary, fraud and identity theft.

Brevard’s mental competency has been called into question during at least two criminal cases against him. In a 2019 assault case in which he was found competent, he pleaded guilty and released from probation last year.

“He is currently being interviewed at our Homicide Branch,” the police department said in a tweet. “Additional information will be forthcoming. Thanks to the community for all your tips.”

The New York City Police Department also confirmed the news, saying in a tweet that “the suspect in 5 shooting incidents, including 2 homicides, in NY and Washington DC has been apprehended.” The department thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI for their assistance.

Five homeless men have been shot in the two cities since March 3, including a fatal shooting and stabbing of a man Wednesday in the capital and a deadly shooting of a second person Saturday in Manhattan, authorities said.

The attacks prompted an intense search, with officials in both cities pleading with the public to help them get the man off the streets. Authorities had offered up to a $70,000 reward for information that led to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

The first three attacks happened in Washington, D.C.: a 4 a.m. shooting on March 3 in which the victim survived, a 1:21 a.m. shooting on March 8 in which the victim survived, and the Wednesday death discovered when a Metropolitan Police Department officer spotted a tent fire, according to a joint statement from Washington and New York police.

The latest attacks occurred less than two hours apart Saturday in New York City, authorities said. The first shooting occurred about 4:30 a.m., when a 38-year-old man was shot while sleeping and woke up shouting, “What are you doing?” police said at a news conference.

The second shooting, the one that was fatal, is believed to have happened around 6 a.m., according to police. But they weren’t notified that a dead man was in a sleeping bag with wounds to his head and his neck until about 11 hours later. The two shootings Saturday occurred about a mile apart, police said.

None of the victims’ identities were available.

In a joint statement Sunday, New York and Washington police announced that they suspected the shootings of the five homeless men are connected.

“Given the similarity in the modus operandi of the perpetrator, common circumstances involved in each shooting, the circumstances of the victims, and information from ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), we will move forward jointly investigating these homicides and shootings,” they said.

The shooter carries a semiautomatic handgun, police said.

“This man targeted those experiencing homelessness with no regard for life, but this criminal is now off the streets,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Tuesday.

“Gun violence against anyone, let alone our most vulnerable populations, is sick, but thanks to the coordination between different levels of law enforcement and the public’s help, those experiencing homelessness can breathe a sigh of relief today,” he said.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser added: “We know that this experience has been especially scary for our residents experiencing homelessness. Our work continues to end homelessness and ensure all residents have access to safe and affordable housing.

Officials from the two cities held a joint news conference Monday evening in which they urged their homeless residents to seek shelter.

Adams said Saturday in a media briefing that one of the victims is lucky to be alive.

“It’s quite possible that one of our citizens is still alive merely because he woke up,” he said. “Two individuals were shot while sleeping on the streets. Not committing a crime, but sleeping on the streets.”

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