- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2013

Two brothers are being charged in connection with a fatal December shootout in Southeast D.C. that was triggered after one of the men was kidnapped while trying to pay a ransom for the other.

The circumstances of the shooting, which killed 22-year-old suspected kidnapper Darnell Rivers, became clear this week after the arrest of the second suspected kidnapper, 18-year-old Javon Hale. Late Thursday, Metropolitan Police Department officials arrested Tony Brown, 21, and his brother James Brown, 23, in connection with the case. Only James Brown was charged with Rivers’ killing, officials with knowledge of the case said. He faces a first-degree murder charge. Tony Brown was arrested for felony possession of a firearm.

In the days after Rivers’ fatal Dec. 29 shooting, police released scant information about the case. Rivers was found fatally shot inside a car in the 5000 block of Ayers Place Southeast, and two other “victims” were located at an area hospital suffering from gunshot wounds. The two men who sought treatment at Prince George’s Hospital Center — and apparently wound up in hospital beds next to one another — were Mr. Hale and Tony Brown.

Court documents filed in D.C. Superior Court in Mr. Hale’s case state that Tony Brown shot Rivers multiple times after the two men forced him into a stolen Mazda. Witnesses told police that Rivers and Mr. Hale were holding James Brown against his will in the car with them when they pulled up. Mr. Hale asked, “You got my money?”

When Tony Brown replied that he did, he was ushered into the back seat of the Mazda at gunpoint and his brother was released.

After a short drive down the road, police said Tony Brown pulled out his revolver and shot Rivers, who was driving. The Mazda crashed and Tony Brown and Mr. Hale exchanged gunfire. Mr. Hale was struck in the wrist and Tony Brown was shot in the face.

Both men fled, with Tony Brown heading toward his home, which was up the block. A witness told police that after the crash a man was seen firing several rounds into the wreckage of the vehicle. Police recovered eight spent 9 mm cartridge casings found scattered around the Mazda.

A separate witness, who said they knew James Brown, said that James Brown was seen both running away from the crash scene and in the backyard of his home a short time later holding an “assault rifle” in his hand, court documents state. When police searched the Browns’ Southeast D.C. home two days after the shooting, officers recovered a Kel-Tec 9 mm carbine rifle. Its ballistics matched the 9 mm cartridges found around the crashed car.

Both Tony Brown and Mr. Hale made their ways independently to Prince George’s Hospital Center for treatment that night.

It was unclear Thursday whether additional charges would be filed against Tony Brown.

Prior to his arrest Thursday, Tony Brown had also been charged with unlawful possession of ammunition for six rounds of .38-caliber ammunition and a 9 mm round found inside his vehicle when police searched his car Dec. 31. An attorney representing Tony Brown in that case could not be reached for comment Thursday, and no attorney information was immediately available for James Brown.

Mr. Hale’s involvement in the shooting drew attention because at the time of the incident he was still facing charges from the 2010 fatal shooting of Manuel D. Sanchez but was released from jail in November on “high-intensity supervision.”

In addition to being charged with kidnapping while armed in the Dec. 29 incident, Mr. Hale is also charged with assault with intent to kill in connection with a shooting three days earlier. According to court documents, Mr. Hale and three others drove in a stolen car to 14th and K streets in Southeast D.C. where they opened fire on a man in a parked car. The four fled to the Eastern Market Metro Station, where surveillance video captured them as they dashed down the station stairs.

As part of Mr. Hale’s pretrial supervision for the 2010 murder case, Mr. Hale wore a GPS tracking device. Authorities used that to place him at the scene of both the Dec. 26 and 29 shootings.

Mr. Hale is scheduled for a review of his charges in the 2010 murder case and preliminary hearing in both recent cases on Feb. 8. His attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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