The man charged with shooting and killing a homeless man and wounding two others, and who is suspected of similar crimes in New York City, appeared to hold up a phone and play music after he shot one one of the victims and was caught when a longtime friend identified him after police linked the cases through ballistics evidence, telephone records and the suspect’s social media posts, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Thirty-year-old Gerald Brevard III, a District resident, made his first appearance in D.C. Superior Court and was ordered held without bail.
Brevard is charged with first-degree murder, assault with intent to kill and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with attacks on three homeless men in Northeast D.C. earlier this month.
Charging documents say someone who knew Brevard identified him through the pictures and video released by the D.C. and New York police. They called the D.C. police and told them his date of birth, telephone number and Instagram handle.
Brevard’s Instagram account was publicly accessible, and police used it to get another telephone number for him. That number showed him traveling between D.C. and New York at times that coincided with the shootings. The court documents say Brevard gave that number as his when he was arrested Tuesday.
The shootings for which Brevard is being charged happened March 3, March 8 and March 9.
In the March 8 shooting, surveillance video captures a man yelling, “no, no, no” and “please don’t shoot” after a gunshot was fired, court documents say. The video shows the suspect a few minutes after the shooting sitting on a curb about a block away and playing music from a mobile device, according to the court papers.
In court Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Tanya Jones Bosier pointed to that allegation as one of multiple reasons to hold Brevard without bail, saying he is alleged to have played the music “as if there was some kind of amusement” after the shooting.
In the last of the shootings on March 9, Morgan Holmes was shot and killed, and discovered in the wreckage of a campsite that had been set on fire at 17th and H streets in Northeast.
Because of the burns, police didn’t realize at first that Holmes had been shot. He had also been stabbed. The charging documents allege that after the shooting, Brevard got a cup of gasoline from a nearby station, went back to the campsite and lit the fire.
According to court documents, the fatal shooting and the first incident occurred within one-half mile of each other and less than two miles from the second wounding.
“This is a disturbing escalation of violent behavior, particularly against individuals who are already vulnerable because they live on the street,” assistant U.S. attorney Sarah Santiago said.
Brevard, she said, carried out “unprovoked attacks of people living on the streets.”
Brevard is also suspected, but has not been charged, in two shootings, one fatal, in New York March 12.
On Monday, March 14, having returned from New York to D.C., Brevard made an Instagram post that included the caption “Feeling Devilish Feeling Godly,” the documents said.
The same weapon
In announcing Brevard’s arrest Tuesday afternoon, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said investigators hadn’t recovered Brevard’s gun. Authorities have said ballistics show all five shootings were from the same weapon.
Finding the gun used in the attacks is “an important piece, but we make cases every day when we don’t have a firearm,” Contee said.
Brevard’s lawyer, Ron Resetarits, argued in court Wednesday that his client should be released because of conflicting statements about the suspect’s description given by witnesses in New York and Washington. He also pointed to the fact that police have not recovered a gun in the case.
His client, he said, has lived in the Washington area for more than 20 years and had worked at a variety of businesses, including a wine store, a nightclub, a bagel shop and restaurants.
Police have yet to ascribe a motive for the shootings, although Brevard has a long history of previous felony and misdemeanor arrests in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
Brevard was arrested in Fairfax County in December 2020 and charged with burglary and abduction in connection with the assault of a woman in a Herndon, Virginia, hotel. He pleaded guilty in March 2021 to a reduced charge and was given an 11-month sentence.
In the D.C. case, which dates to 2018, Brevard was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after police say he tried stab someone during an argument on M Street in Georgetown.
He was temporarily found incompetent to stand trial and sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital for evaluation before pleading guilty the following year. He was sentenced to two years of probation, according to court records.
Maryland court records show Brevard remains wanted on more than 30 counts of credit card fraud and minor thefts. Brevard’s family has said he has experienced periods of homelessness over the years, and has a history of mental illness.
“We said that the work to remove this man from our streets was urgent, and our communities responded,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a joint statement with New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday.
“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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.