by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
It is bittersweet because no matter what, Al Muhammed Brown's apprehension will not bring back the two lives he took, but on July 18, New Jersey authorities arrested the man indicted in the double shooting of two Gay men of color in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood. For now, at least the families have that much to comfort them.
But soon begins the trial.
On June 1, Ali Muhammed Brown, 30, executed Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, and Ahmed Said, 27. Seattle's LGBTQ community would soon learn that Brown, a man said to harbor radical Islamic beliefs and although he was supposed to register as a sex offender, he did not, posed as Gay on the mobile hookup app Grindr to attract his victims. Brown even went so far as to pick the two young men up outside of popular Gay nightclub, R Place, before shooting the two young men to death in such a way that King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip called the slayings 'extremely violent, senseless and seemingly unprovoked.'
At first, immediately after the horrible murders, there looked to be a sign of hope when Matalepuna Malu, 26, turned himself in after police named him as a suspect, saying he wanted to clear his name. Malu's family maintained his innocence from the start, believing so much that he did not commit the murders, at one point concerned family members showed up at City Hall to confront the mayor on the situation.
Just as Malu and his family had said, his alibi checked out. Malu could be seen on video walking into a casino around the time of the double homicide in the Central District. The casino wasn't anywhere near the area where the crime took place.
Following Malu's release and a candlelight vigil held near where the bodies of Anderson-Young and Said were found, in which for the first time in Seattle City history, the Somali, African-American and LGBT communities came together united in the call for justice and an end to violent crimes, tips started to pour in and witnesses began to come forward.
Police were able to piece together what happened that night. Anderson-Young and Said were hanging out at R Place on May 31 and met up with a man identified as 'a friend' of Said's outside the club. Witnesses later identified that man as Brown.
One of Anderson-Young's friends, who saw the man outside the club, told police that he was 'creeped out' by Said's friend and declined Said's offer of a ride home. Another friend of Anderson-Young's told police that Said 'continually talked about meeting someone outside the club later.' That friend told police that Said appeared to be texting over Grindr; however, after taking a look at Said's friend outside, that friend also declined Said's offer for a ride home.
Police say Brown, Said and Anderson-Young then drove to Anderson-Young's house, in the 500 block of 29th Ave. S., where Brown pulled a gun and executed the two young men and then drove off in Said's car, which was later found abandoned in South Seattle.
Police linked Brown to the slayings after they found his fingerprints and three spent 9-mm shell casings inside Said's car. The mother of Brown's children told police that her 9-mm semiautomatic handgun was missing and that Brown had access to the gun.
Further implicating Brown to the murders, when looking at a photomontage at Seattle police headquarters, one of Anderson-Young's friends pointed out Brown as the man who drove away from Capitol Hill with the victims.
'The murders took place less than 17 minutes after two witnesses saw Ali Brown leave with the victims in Said's car. There is no evidence to suggest that Said and/or Anderson-Young were armed, and these murders do not appear to be motivated by robbery, drugs or any other crime,' Seattle Police Detective Cloyd Steiger wrote in charging documents.
Detectives say Said was shot multiple times in the face at close range and also in the back, as was Anderson-Young.
Steiger added that it's 'evident that these murders were premeditated and unprovoked and part of a common scheme or plan.'
What that scheme or plan was, is still unknown. Although Brown was apprehended last week no new information has come to light to help explain why Brown did this terrible thing.
Some say Brown killed and targeted, specifically, Said because he was Gay and a Muslim and that Anderson-Young was unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Another theory is that Brown just didn't like Gay men in general - Anderson-Young's mother said in an interview after her son was murdered that her son was an out Gay man - and so he was out to kill that night anyway and it just so happened to be those two who caught the brunt of his maniacal plan. As of now, however, the only certainty is that Brown did indeed pull the trigger, kill the men, and steal the car and then go on the run. Everything else is pure speculation.
The good news is the Seattle Police Department has said that they are not ruling anything out. When asked last month whether the shootings were being investigated as a possible hate crime, Assistant Police Chief Carmen Best said, 'nothing is off the table.'
What is known about Brown, according to his criminal record, he was also wanted on warrants for failure to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty in March of 2012 to communicate with a minor for immoral purposes, and was sentenced to a year in jail; in addition, Brown served federal prison time for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a plot to defraud several banks. In that case, between January 2002 and November 2004, Brown and three other men defrauded U.S. Bank, Bank of America, Key Bank, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and Boeing Employees Credit Union by depositing counterfeit and fake checks then withdrawing funds before the checks were returned, according to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Authorities determined that many of the men involved were supporting terrorism in Somalia.
And what is also known is that once Brown knew he was being sought by SPD officials, he took off. At one point, he was nearly nabbed in Tacoma but got away. Originally from West Orange, New Jersey, Brown miraculously evaded arrest all the way there when, upon arriving in his home state, he committed robbery and carjacking in the coastal town of Point Pleasant Beach, which then set off a national manhunt for the man who, by then, had been charged with two counts of aggravated murder back in Seattle.
Prosecutors say those charges could potentially result in the death penalty. In charging documents, prosecutors wrote that Brown's 'propensity for violence' creates a 'substantial likelihood of danger to the community.'
The charge of aggravated murder carries two possible sentences: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.
It is important to note, however, that Mark Larson, chief of staff for the King County Prosecutor's Office, said there will be no discussion on whether the death penalty will be sought until after Brown is booked into the King County Jail.
'Seattle Police Homicide detectives have been working on this case relentlessly since day one,' said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole. 'I personally offer my thanks to them and every other local, state and federal law enforcement official involved in the search for Mr. Brown and his eventual capture.'
In a statement, Mayor Ed Murray, who met with the families of both the victims, said, 'All of our communities are safer today as a result. I hope his arrest brings some initial measure of closure to the families of Dwone Anderson-Young and Ahmed Said.'
Brown, who was arrested without incident by New Jersey's Essex County Prosecutors Homicide Task Force and West Orange police on warrant charges, is currently being housed at the Essex County Correctional Center, but will eventually be turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service.
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