The man police believe is responsible for shooting at least five homeless individuals in Washington, D.C. and New York City was taken into custody in D.C. on Monday, and it’s not the first time that cops have put cuffs on him. According to authorities, 30-year old Gerald Brevard III has a pretty extensive history in the criminal justice system, as well as repeated contacts with the mental health system.
Dr. Barbara Bazron, the director of the Department of Behavioral Health in Washington, said Tuesday that Brevard had sought and received mental-health services with the city in the past.
While family expressed shock at his allegedly carrying out targeted—and lethal—attacks, Brevard has a long criminal history.
That history includes allegations of violent crimes, such as in July 2018, when Brevard was charged with assault after allegedly brandishing a knife and attempting to stab another individual during a dispute. In 2019, records show that Brevard was found mentally incompetent after a court-ordered exam and was temporarily committed to a city-operated psychiatric hospital.
In December 2020, Brevard was charged with assaulting a woman in Virginia. A month prior, police said, Brevard pushed a woman against a hotel hallway and assaulted her. When the woman, who suffered minor injuries, yelled for help, Brevard allegedly ran away.
NYPD chief Ken Corey told reporters that Brevard didn’t have any prior arrests in New York, but that his history includes “multiple contacts” with law enforcement in multiple states. NBC 4 in Washington, D.C. was able to dig up some details, and found at least one instance in the past few years where felony charges against Brevard were downgraded to misdemeanors in a plea deal.
In Fairfax County, Virginia, Brevard was charged with multiple crimes, including attacks on women in the Herndon area in 2020.
As part of a plea deal, his initial felony charges of abduction with intent to defile and burglary were downgraded to misdemeanors. He was sentenced to serve 11 months for assault and battery and unlawful entry but was released or transferred from the Fairfax County jail before that sentence was complete.
He was sentenced to a year of probation. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said the plea agreement was reached because the witness couldn’t positively identify Brevard and there was no fingerprint evidence.
… In the nation’s capital., the suspect has faced a number of charges, including assaulting a police officer and theft in 2018 and 2019.
According to D.C. Superior Court documents, Brevard was preliminarily found not competent to stand trial. The court sent him to Saint Elizabeths Hospital for an evaluation, where he was treated and later deemed competent.
… In Cecil County, Maryland, a court clerk confirmed Brevard is wanted on nearly three dozen misdemeanor theft and fraud charges. That bench warrant was issued in February of last year.
Despite that extensive criminal history, it doesn’t appear that Brevard was ever sentenced to any serious time behind bars. Brevard’s father told NBC 4 that he feels the system failed his son.
“I’m pained… He’s always been a nonviolent, mild-mannered kid, very timid,” he said in a phone call with News4’s Shomari Stone. “I know it’s alleged, but if it turns out to be true, knowing what I know over the years of dealing with him and his mental issues, I can just see how it just deteriorated.”
In his statement, Brevard Jr. said he couldn’t speak to details of the case.
“He is a good person and like many across the world, he suffers from mental illness. 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,” Brevard Jr. said.
I don’t know if Brevard III should have been behind bars or in a mental institution, but I know that he shouldn’t have been roaming the streets of New York or Washington, D.C. based on his history. I also know that D.C.’s gun control laws, which are some of the most restrictive in the nation, apparently didn’t stop Brevard from getting his hands on a pistol.
The system is failing all of us, which helps to explain why so many Americans are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights for the first time in their lives. We know all too well that even when violent offenders are taken into custody, there’s a good chance that they’ll quickly be released; either on bond or as the result of a plea deal. As much as I’d like to see that change, I don’t hold out much hope for the real reforms that are necessary, which makes it all the more important to recognize that your safety and your security is ultimately up to you… not the criminal justice system.