Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Three suspects in Colonel Brooks’ Tavern triple-murder case were ordered held without bond yesterday.

At a D.C. Superior Court hearing, prosecutors said each identified David A. Wright — a former cook at the tavern — as the ringleader of what was supposed to be an armed robbery of the Northeast eatery on April 6.

Instead, three employees were fatally shot as they prepared for a Palm Sunday brunch.

Each suspect quoted Mr. Wright as saying, “They had to go” after one of the victims recognized him, police said.

Tyree S. Bunn, 24, of Oxon Hill; Rodman J. Durham, 29, of Baltimore; and Joel Smith, 21, of the District, each face murder charges.

Wright killed himself last month, rather than be arrested. His body was found in a home in Colonial Heights, Va., 125 miles south of the District.

Rodney Barnes, 47, of the District; Neomi Payne, 48, of Glen Echo; and Joshua Greenberg, 34, of Hyattsville, were found shot in the head inside a walk-in freezer at the restaurant. Payne is believed to have recognized Wright.

Investigators said the suspects got away with barely $3,000.

“This is just incredible to me that there could be so much devastation over $3,000,” said Rudy Manili, the general manager of Colonel Brooks’ Tavern. “One of the guys got $600. It’s truly beyond me.”

Mr. Barnes’ sister was furious that the suspects were trying to blame Wright.

“You can’t blame everything on David Wright. Yes, he’s gone, but he left you here to deal with this all by yourself,” said Tawanna Barnes-Jackson. “And justice is being served.”

The next court date was set for June 4.

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