But authorities in both cities say they believe the same man, 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III, is responsible for the shootings that left two men dead.
Brevard has faced numerous charges — such as assault and battery — in multiple states.
In 2010, Brevard was charged with malicious destruction of property in Maryland. That case was resolved with a guilty plea and probation.
In 2018, he was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in Washington, DC. He was found incompetent to stand trial in June 2019 before being found competent the next month.
Brevard accepted a plea agreement and entered a guilty plea. He was given a 12-month suspended sentence and two years of supervised release, also suspended. Brevard was also ordered to undergo mental health and substance abuse assessments, along with drug treatment if it was deemed appropriate.
Another special condition required him to “cooperate with any housing assistance offered.”
Court records show he violated conditions of release both before and after the conviction on the assault with a dangerous weapon charge. It’s not clear which conditions he violated.
In 2020, Brevard was charged in two different incidents in Fairfax County, Virginia. He was found guilty of a charge of assault and battery and sentenced to a 12-month suspended sentence and 12 months probation. He was also found guilty of entering property to cause damage and sentenced to 12 months, with one month suspended, and 12 months of probation.
In November 2020 in Maryland, court records show Brevard was also charged with 33 counts including theft, credit card theft and theft from a vehicle. He did not appear, and a bench warrant was issued in February 2021. Brevard’s bond was forfeited, the case remains open and the warrant still appears to be active.
And last month, on February 8, Brevard was charged with probation violation in Virginia. A hearing on the revocation of probation was set for March 17.
How this month’s shootings unfolded
Authorities say they believe Brevard is responsible for shooting five men experiencing homelessness:
— The second shooting happened around 1:21 a.m. March 8 in the 1700 block of H Street Northeast in Washington, police said. A man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
— Shortly after 2:50 a.m. on March 9, a DC Police member noticed a fire in the 400 block of New York Avenue Northeast. After the flames were extinguished, a man’s remains were discovered, police said. The cause of death was determined to be multiple stab and gunshot wounds.
In one of the New York shootings, video shows a man sleeping near the corner of King Street and Varick when an attacker approaches and shoots him in his forearm, police said. The 38-year-old victim was taken to a hospital for treatment.
The other New York shooting happened around 6 a.m. outside 148 Lafayette Street. There, officers found a man in a sleeping bag with gunshot wounds to his head and neck, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
How the suspect was found
Capt. Kevin Kentish, a Queens native who now works with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, was scrolling through his social media when something caught his eye.
In Washington, Kentish and his team were investigating the March 9 killing of a homeless person. The detective flagged the photos to his colleagues and they reached out to New York and federal law enforcement agencies and began comparing evidence, including shell casings left behind at the scenes.
“Our partners at the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) tested our evidence that was recovered, they tested the evidence that was recovered in New York and we got a hit,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said. They were looking for the same person.
ATF agents found and arrested Brevard on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington at around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said.
CNN was not immediately able to identify an attorney for Brevard.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said although authorities in New York City have not yet announced charges, they believe the same person is responsible for the shootings of two homeless people in that city because of connections through ballistic evidence and clothing in pictures.
“We don’t have enough to make an arrest, we’re working with the Manhattan district attorney, we’re gathering all our evidence,” Essig said. “I’m very confident we’ll get there.”
Suspect has mental illness, his family says
The alleged shooter’s father, Gerald Brevard Jr., extended condolences to the victims’ families and told CNN his son suffers from mental illness.
Brevard received psychiatric treatment several years ago after being found mentally incompetent to stand trial for a separate assault charge, according to his father and court records. After three months, Brevard was found competent to stand trial and transferred back to jail, according to court records.
But before he was released, his father urged authorities to have him transferred back to a psychiatric hospital because he “wasn’t well,” but was told that was not possible, he told CNN.
“The bigger picture is not that he has mental illness, but the number of times that he’s been within the judicial system and how the system has failed regarding the treatment of so many, including my son.”
He said that his son has lived on and off with his great-aunt but has been experiencing homelessness in the last few years.
She said her mom “took him in and gave him a chance to get himself together but if you don’t get help it’s going to keep going to the next level.”
CNN’s Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.