TERRELL, Texas (AP) — A man accused of killing his mother, aunt and three other people before police arrested him early Tuesday following a high-speed chase has a long criminal history that includes a conviction for assaulting a family member.
Court records don’t indicate which family member Charles Everett Brownlow Jr. was convicted of assaulting in 2011. But they show that two years earlier, he was sentenced to three years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and that he was paroled after seven months.
Police haven’t disclosed the preliminary charges against Brownlow, but they said he is suspected in all five killings Monday night in Terrell, a rural community about 30 miles east of Dallas. Investigators spent the night going from one grisly crime scene to the next until an officer spotted the suspect running from a local convenience store to his car and sped after him.
“We’re all in a state of shock,” police Chief Jody Law said at a news conference hours after Brownlow’s arrest. “You have a tendency to think, `How can that happen here?’ This is a country community, a rural community, people are real close. This is going to be, it’s going to have a really big impact on us.”
Brownlow’s brother, Terrence Walker, told The Associated Press that the 36-year-old Brownlow struggled with drug addiction and lived with their mother, Mary Brownlow. His brother’s criminal record, which dates back to 1995, also includes convictions for drug possession and burglary.
Walker said his brother “always wanted to take something that wasn’t his,” and that their mother put up with it.
“I was hoping my mom would open her eyes and realize that she needed to let him grow up, put him out,” said Walker, who said an aunt was among the other victims. Walker said his own family spent the night at a hotel instead of their home in Forney, and that he was armed with a pistol in case his brother came after him.
Lay didn’t release the victims’ names or discuss a possible motive for the attacks, which began around 5 p.m. Monday when a woman was gunned down at a Terrell home.
About 30 minutes later, fire units responded to the blaze at Mary Brownlow’s house a few blocks away. When the fire was extinguished, crews found a woman’s body in the smoldering wreckage. Lay said it was clearly arson.
At about 10:30 p.m., police responding to a report of a shooting elsewhere in Terrell found the bodies of a man and a woman who had been shot at a home and a 3-year-old boy who wasn’t harmed. The child was released to relatives, Lay said.
At this point a description of the stolen vehicle the suspect was believed to be driving was released to officers and, just minutes later, an off-duty police officer saw that vehicle parked outside the convenience store. As the officer called in the sighting, the suspect ran from the store, jumped in the vehicle and sped away, Lay said.
A high-speed police chase ensued. The suspect wrecked the car and took off on foot into thick woods, dropping a holster or handgun on the way, the chief said.
A police helicopter and dogs were summoned to assist in the manhunt, and the suspect was found hiding in a creek.
The fifth victim, a male clerk, was found slain at the store.
The store’s owner, Ali Karimi, said the slain clerk was a model employee and “beautiful young man” who leaves behind a 1-year-old son.
“We’re still in the process of putting this massive investigation together,” Lay said. “We’re still making sure that surviving family members are appropriately notified.”
Brownlow’s criminal history goes back to 1995.
Records show he was sentenced in 2009 to three years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was paroled after seven months.
Brownlow was convicted two years ago on an assault charge related to family violence. Court records don’t indicate which family member was involved.