Man captured in connection with 5 deaths near Dallas
POSTED: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 5:10pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 3:14pm
Dallas, TX (CNN) — Charles Everett Brownlow Jr.'s mother is dead. So is his aunt. The same goes for two of his acquaintances, plus a convenience store worker in his hometown of Terrell, Texas, some 30 miles east of Dallas.
Yet rather than preparing for their funerals, Brownlow is likely planning his defense -- from jail.
All five of the deceased died violently, found over a busy and bloody six-hour stretch Monday night within miles of each other in Terrell. As of Tuesday afternoon, the 36-year-old Brownlow faced a single charge of murder, in the death of the Ali's Market worker, the only victim it is believed the suspect did not know. But Terrell police Chief Jody Lay made clear that "additional capital murder charges" are anticipated.
"This is a country community, a rural community," Lay said Tuesday. "People are really close. And this is going to have a really big impact on us."
The chaos began around 5 p.m. Monday with reports of a gunshot victim. Police arrived to find a dead woman -- later determined to be Belinda Walker, Terrell's 55-year-old aunt -- with at least one bullet wound to the head.
About a half hour later, a firefighter noticed that a nearby home was on fire, Lay explained. These flames were quickly extinguished, and authorities found another woman's body. This was Charles Brownlow's house, and the victim was Mary Brownlow, his 61-year-old mother.
Investigators determined the two deaths -- like the victims -- appeared related and issued an alert to law enforcement to look for Charles Brownlow and the white 2002 Ford Focus he was believed to be driving, Lay explained.
As law enforcement looked, more gunshots were reported elsewhere in Terrell, with no one injured and the shooter getting away in a white vehicle.
A report of another shooting came in around 10:30 p.m., where a man and vehicle matching the bulletin had been spotted. Police went in the home and found 33-year-old Jason Wooden and 30-year-old Kelleye Sluder -- both of whom lived there, both now shot dead. Lay said later that "all indications are that (Brownlow) knew those victims," adding only that "they hung out occasionally."
It was a mere 10 minutes later when an off-duty police officer spotted the Ford Focus and, after closer examination, the suspect inside Ali's Market. Later, 22-year-old worker Luis Gerardo Leal-Carillo was found slain there.
A high-speed pursuit followed, ending in a dead-end. The suspect stopped his car, got out, then fled -- shielded by heavy brush and the dark night sky.
Authorities stopped chasing him about 150 feet in, instead setting up a wide perimeter and calling in a state Department of Public Safety helicopter. That helicopter's crew and officers on the ground ultimately located Brownlow hiding in a creek around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and took him into custody "without incident." Only one weapon was involved in the crimes, said Lay, who did not describe it.
Hours later, disbelief, disgust and sadness permeated Terrell.
An emotional Ali Karimi, the owner of Ali's Market, told CNN affiliate WFAA that he and the world had "lost a good, honest, caring individual" in Leal-Carillo.
"I loved him as a person," Karimi said of his slain employee. "I loved him like a son."
And Terrence Walker, who identified himself as the suspect's brother, told WFAA that he was at a "total loss" to explain what happened -- including to their mother, Mary Brownlow, whom Walker described as "so quiet and good."
"I'm devastated," Walker told the station. "... I'm in a daze."
Charles Brownlow was in police custody Tuesday facing one count of evading arrest in a vehicle in addition to the murder charge. His listed address is the home that was burned down. It was not known who will represent him in court; CNN's call to the Kaufman County public defender's office on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
A public records search indicated Brownlow previously had been convicted on theft, burglary, weapons, assault of a family member and marijuana possession and other charges, though nothing close to this scale.
So how do authorities explain this week's bloodshed? Lay said that authorities have "several theories that we're working," though he wouldn't go further than that.
And asked about Brownlow's condition at the time of the arrest, the police chief said he did "appear to be intoxicated on some sort of substance, (but) at this point we don't have a real good idea exactly what that is."
As horrific as the events were, Lay said that it might have even worse had the off-duty officer not spotted the suspect at the Terrell market.
"All I can say is, I think that had the police officer not intervened," Lay said, "I was very concerned that we would have additional situations that we would have to had to deal with that night."