Police have arrested a person identified as the prime suspect in a string of killings of homeless people in New York City and Washington, D.C., following nearly two harrowing weeks of what’s been described as deliberate targeting.
Gerald Brevard III was identified as the person in police custody, according to a new report. The Daily Beast cited senior law enforcement officials in its report identifying Brevard as the suspect. The report also identifies Brevard as being a resident of D.C. who has a criminal history that includes being accused of assaulting a woman in Virginia in 2020.
Other details were scarce Tuesday morning and officials did not immediately verify the suspect’s name. It was unclear where the suspect was arrested, but the D.C. police department tweeted at 5:40 a.m. that its homicide division was interviewing the suspect. The police department specifically thanked “the community for all your tips,” suggesting the suspect was apprehended with the help of the public.
On Monday, officials released images of the suspect, who appeared to be a Black or brown man. The irony there, of course, is that statistics show serial killers have throughout history been disproportionately white men. Conversely, the homeless population in the U.S. is lopsidedly Black.
The identities and ethnic backgrounds of all five of the homeless people who were shot over the course of 12 days have not been made public. Nor is there any evidence to suggest the suspect targeted the homeless people because of their racial backgrounds.
The timeline of the shootings began in D.C. in the early morning hours of March 3. The next shootings of homeless people came on March 8 and 9, respectively. The person shot on March 9 died. All three of those shootings took place in the city’s northeast quadrant. The next shootings happened in New York City, where two other homeless people were shot on Saturday in separate incidents in Manhattan. The second shooting was fatal.
Police in both cities were subsequently trying to get homeless people off the streets in an effort to protect them from similar violence.
“Hunting Humans: An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers,” a book touted on the website of the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, says that more than 80% of serial killers are white people while just 15% are Black.
“Some committed their crimes in specific geographic areas, while others traveled widely,” the book’s abstract says in part. “Motives were often psychological, with strong sado-sexual overtones and evidence of compulsive behavior.”
On the flip side, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a report in 2020 that found the majority of the country’s homeless people are Black. More specifically, Black people make up more than half of the U.S. homeless population while only comprising 13% of the overall U.S. population. Those numbers have been rising in recent years.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.