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How Troubled D.C. Man Came to Kill The Homeless In Two Cities

By the time Morgan Holmes and Gerald Brevard III crossed paths behind an animal shelter in Washington, D.C., they had spent years following each other’s footsteps, tracing paths through the courts and jails and mental hospitals of the capital and its suburbs. They had done stints at the same city psychiatric institution and sometimes spent nights in the same neighborhood: Brevard at a men’s shelter, Holmes in a roadside tent. Holmes was a generation older at 54. After attempts at stability, he withdrew from his family, ashamed of his condition. Brevard, 30, tormented by illusions that people were plotting against him, had been in and out of the criminal justice system his entire adult life. In New York City, Abdoulaye Coulibaly came to New York from Gambia about 20 years ago and made a bare living selling knockoff pocketbooks and directing customers to street vendors in Chinatown until he fell prey to mental illness and homelessness, the New York Times reports.

The three men’s lives collided violently this month. On March 9, after shooting and wounding two other homeless men, Brevard approached Holmes’s tent, shot and stabbed him and then set the tent aflame, prosecutors said. Three nights later, Brevard surfaced in Manhattan. Ninety minutes after shooting a man in the arm, he saw Coulibaly sleeping in a doorway next to a closed art supply store and shot him to death. Brevard was arrested for murder three days later in Washington. The bloodshed came as the two cities grappled with crises of homelessness and untreated mental illness that have grown more acute during the pandemic, and have also faced rising gun violence. The Times tells how the Brevard case evolved