FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - Two vastly different pictures emerged Tuesday of an ice cream truck driver who was gunned down in front of waiting children.
His father and the truck’s owner described 22-year-old Brandon Brown as an earnest young man determined to improve his life after an 18-month jail sentence for assault. He had started working as a plumber’s apprentice just three days before he was fatally shot, they said.
“He understood what things had occurred in his past, but he also came to an epiphany with himself to realize he wanted to make a change. He wanted to make a difference,” said Brandon’s father, Tony Brown Sr. of Wintersville, Ohio, standing outside the Frederick town house where Brandon’s mother and stepfather live.
But the attorney for Larnell Lyles, who is charged with first-degree murder in the attack, said Brown had been stalking Lyles for months - getting into a fistfight, breaking into his home, and holding him and his daughter hostage while playing Russian roulette - all over a $20 debt.
“My client was a victim of Brandon Brown,” attorney Carl Somerlock said in a telephone interview. He wouldn’t say whether Lyles, 27, fired the shots that killed Brown on Saturday outside the Big Daddy’s ice cream truck parked at a subsidized housing complex in Frederick, about 45 miles west of Baltimore.
Police said they couldn’t find any reports confirming Somerlock’s allegations without knowing the dates, which Somerlock did not immediately provide to The Associated Press. Investigators were looking into a possible relationship between the men.
“That’s part of us looking into the motive for this whole event,” Frederick Police Lt. Clark Pennington said.
As first reported by The Frederick News-Post, Somerlock said Brown, 22, began harassing Lyles and his family members in February because one of Lyles’ cousins owed him money.
In May, Brown flashed a gun at Lyles in a parking lot near Lyles’ sister’s house, Somerlock said. Brown told others in the area he was going to kill Lyles, the lawyer said.
He said Brown later drove the Big Daddy’s ice cream truck into Lyles’ sister’s neighborhood.
“Brandon was stalking the sister’s house, trying to find him,” the lawyer said.
On Saturday, Lyles approached the truck to help some children buy ice cream and was “caught off guard” when he saw Brown, Somerlock said.
Brandon McIntosh, who was helping out in the truck, told police that when Lyles approached, Brown stepped outside to smoke a cigarette, putting him face to face with Lyles. McIntosh said there was no confrontation - Lyles just pointed a revolver and fired three shots at Brown’s chest, according to court records.
Brown’s father, his stepfather Eric Clipper and ice cream truck owner Enrique Espinoza all said they’d never heard of Lyles or about any debt Brown was trying to collect.
“He’s close like family,” said Espinoza, who said he’d known Brown for eight years. Espinoza said Brown had been helping him with the ice cream business for about a year and had started going out with the truck on his own in the last month.
Brown’s family members said they have started a GoFundMe.com page to help with funeral expenses. Funeral arrangements were incomplete as of Tuesday.
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