- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Metropolitan Police yesterday arrested a third suspect and identified a fourth in the triple homicide in the spring at Colonel Brooks’ Tavern in Brookland.

Joel Smith, 21, of the 1800 block of Kendell Street NE, was arrested at 10:15 a.m. yesterday and charged with felony murder while armed in connection with the April 6 slayings, police said.

Police identified David Alfonza Wright, 33, of no fixed address, as a fourth suspect. Mr. Wright was a former employee at the tavern.

Mr. Smith’s arrest came one day after police and city officials announced that two suspects had been arrested in the Palm Sunday slayings of three employees at the popular restaurant at 901 Monroe St. NE near Catholic University.

Tyree Sherrod Bunn, 27, of Oxon Hill, was arrested at 2 p.m. Monday in Southeast, and Rodman Joseph Durham, 29, was arrested at 8:50 a.m. Tuesday in his dormitory room at Coppin State University in Baltimore, police said.

Mr. Bunn and Mr. Durham were charged with murder and made initial appearances in D.C. Superior Court yesterday afternoon. Their family members wept as the men were brought before Judge J. Dennis Doyle, who ordered the two held without bond.

The men are scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Feb. 11.

According to court documents, police got their first break in the case July 20, when a witness told investigators that Mr. Bunn had bragged about the killings.

The witness told police that Mr. Bunn said the robbery had been planned by Mr. Wright and Mr. Durham. During the robbery, three employees at the restaurant were forced into a walk-in refrigerator.

Neomi Payne, 48, a cook at the restaurant, reportedly recognized Mr. Wright, a former employee, because his mask did not completely cover his face. Mr. Bunn told the witness that Miss Payne had begged for her life, calling out Mr. Wright’s name.

Mr. Bunn told the witness that he had shot head chef Joshua Greenberg, 34, and then Mr. Wright took the gun and said, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Mr. Wright then reportedly shot all three victims in the head.

Mr. Greenberg was shot three times in the head, and Miss Payne was shot multiple times in the body. Rodney Barnes, 47, a construction worker who worked part-time as a dishwasher, also was shot in the head. Nine shell casings were recovered, and police have recovered the weapons.

Investigators persuaded the witness to engage in a series of tape-recorded conversations with Mr. Bunn about the killings before he was arrested.

After his arrest Monday, Mr. Bunn confessed his involvement in the robbery, but said he simply had been a lookout.

Mr. Durham also confessed to his role in the robbery, admitting that he and Mr. Wright were the shooters.

A fourth employee, an assistant manager, told police that he had been 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.

Court documents show that the assistant manager suspected a robbery and locked an undisclosed amount of money in the safe, leaving behind $3,000, which was stolen. He then slipped out through a door to a subroof, heard shots and later returned to call police.

The court documents said it was a common and widely known practice at the restaurant for management to deposit earnings from Saturday night on Sunday mornings.

Mr. Wright had been fired from the restaurant in fall 2002.

The manager on duty at the tavern yesterday, who gave his name only as Jeff, said he did not know why Mr. Wright had been fired.

“I know no one really liked to work with him,” he said. “I hope they get what’s coming to them.”

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