- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Metropolitan police yesterday announced the arrest of two suspects in the Palm Sunday slaying of three employees at Colonel Brooks’ Tavern in Brookland, an act of violence that shocked the Northeast neighborhood near Catholic University last April.

Police arrested Rodman Joseph Durham, 29, in his dormitory room at Coppin State University in Baltimore yesterday about 8:50 a.m. That followed the arrest of Tyree Sherrod Bunn, 27, of Oxon Hill, at 2 p.m. Monday in Southeast. Both men have been charged with murder.

Tavern employees said yesterday Mr. Bunn worked as a cook at Colonel Brooks’ about five years ago and was familiar with the restaurant’s operations.

Police are searching for two other suspects.

At a news conference yesterday, Chief Charles H. Ramsey would not say what led police to make the arrests after nearly 10 months of investigation, but police officials said they have conducted hundreds of interviews since the April 6 killings. Chief Ramsey also would not say whether additional arrests were forthcoming.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to see to it that anything still outstanding with this case is tied up,” he said. “It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve made significant progress.”

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams praised the work of the police force, along with the efforts of police in Prince George’s County and Baltimore and the FBI. “This is an important milestone in this case and in the life of our Brookland and Northeast community,” he said.

Patrons at Colonel Brooks’ yesterday watched the news conference on a television set behind the bar.

“We’ve been waiting for this day,” said bartender Terrence Blackwell.

Waitresses, cooks, managers and regular customers gathered at the bar. As photos of the victims flashed on the screen, Mr. Blackwell handed tissues to a waitress who had begun to cry.

Mr. Blackwell, 41, who has worked at the bar for nine years, frowned when Chief Ramsey announced Mr. Bunn’s name, recognizing him as a former employee who worked at the restaurant about five years ago.

The announcement confirmed what many already suspected.

“It’s always been my feeling that it’s someone who worked here or used to work here,” said general manager Rudy Manilli. “I think everyone here will breathe a lot easier.”

The restaurant, at 901 Monroe St. NE near Catholic University, is a popular landmark among students, faculty and residents.

The shooting occurred inside the building about 8:15 a.m. on April 6. The victims, three employees who had arrived minutes earlier to begin preparing Sunday brunch, were found in a walk-in refrigerator. Each had been shot in the head.

The victims were Rodney Barnes, 47, of Northwest, a construction worker who worked part-time as a dishwasher; Neomi Payne, 48, of Hyattsville, a cook; and Joshua Greenberg, 34, of Glen Echo, the head chef.

Mr. Barnes and Miss Payne were pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Greenberg was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he died about an hour later.

A fourth employee, an assistant manager, told police he was upstairs near a window and saw two men lower masks over their faces and enter the restaurant through an unlocked back door to the kitchen. The employee said he slipped out through a door to a subroof, heard shots and later returned to call police.

Investigators said the killers robbed the restaurant of about $3,000.

Two days after the killings, a crowd of about 300 mourners, including Mr. Williams and Chief Ramsey, attended a candlelight vigil in the street outside the restaurant.

The killings were one sign of increasing violence that Chief Ramsey cited in August when he implemented a crime initiative allowing him more flexibility in assigning and scheduling officers.

There were 248 homicides in the District last year, down from 262 in 2002. Police closed 61 percent of homicide cases last year, up from 55 percent in 2002.

So far this year, there have been 21 killings, prompting two D.C. Council members to call on Chief Ramsey last week to reinstate the additional crime-fighting measures.

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