- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2004

The man who planned the Palm Sunday robbery that ended in a triple homicide at Colonel Brooks’ Tavern in Northeast killed himself in a townhouse north of Richmond, police said yesterday.

David A. Wright, a former cook at the popular restaurant in the Brookland neighborhood, was found dead Thursday night in an apartment in Colonial Heights, Va., by authorities who had come to serve an arrest warrant, D.C police said.

Authorities said Mr. Wright, 33, had slit his throat and swallowed some sort of poison.

Officer Thomas Kifer, a spokesman for the Colonial Heights Police Department, said officers forced their way into the apartment at 8:13 p.m., and U.S. marshals discovered Mr. Wright’s body in a second-floor bathroom soon after.

“Indications are that at the time federal marshals found him he had been dead for a number of hours,” Officer Kifer said.

The body was transported to the coroner’s office in Richmond, where it was positively identified through fingerprint analysis. The results of toxicology tests to determine the cause and manner of death are pending, and Colonial Heights police are treating the case as a suspicious death.

Officer Kifer said there was no evidence that Mr. Wright had any ties to the community where he was found and likely arrived at the house Wednesday.

“Our understanding is that the person who leased the apartment did not personally know him but allowed him to stay there through a friend,” he said.

Mr. Wright’s death, along with three arrests last week, closed a case that shocked the community around the popular eating establishment 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 Baltimore. Joel Smith, 21, of the 1800 block of Kendell Street NE, was arrested at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday. All were charged with felony murder while armed and have confessed to their roles in the robbery. They are being held without bond.

According to court documents, Mr. Wright and Mr. Durham planned the robbery, during which three employees at the restaurant were forced into a walk-in refrigerator.

Neomi Payne, 48, a cook at the restaurant, reportedly recognized Mr. Wright 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.

After one of the men had shot head chef Joshua Greenberg, 34, Mr. Wright took the gun and said, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Mr. Wright then reportedly shot each of the three victims.

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.

The robbery netted less than $3,000.


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