by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A gunman suspected of killing two homeless men and wounding others in two East Coast cities in March would have been in prison at the time of the shootings if not for the work of one progressive Virginia prosecutor.
The office of Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney Steve Descano (D.) in December 2020 charged the shooter, Gerald Brevard III, with three felonies related to his attempt to abduct a hotel housekeeper and later break into a nearby apartment. The felonies— abduction with attempt to defile, burglary, and possession of burglarious tools — together would carry a minimum of 26 years in prison and up to a life sentence.
But six months later in June 2021 Brevard was a free man. Descano’s office reduced the first two felonies to misdemeanors, and dropped the third entirely, the case file shows, allowing him to leave prison after just five months. Less than a year later in March, Brevard opened fire on the first victim of his shooting spree. In the course of the nine-day spree, he is alleged to have killed two homeless men and wounded three others in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The reduced charges Descano’s office placed on Brevard were not the first in his criminal history—his rap sheet stretches back to at least 2010 and includes malicious destruction of property, drug possession, armed robbery, assault with a firearm, and assaulting a police officer. A policy memo that Descano distributed the day before Brevard’s 2020 arrest urged assistant commonwealth’s attorneys to seek misdemeanor charges over felonies whenever appropriate. And according to sources who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon, including former members of the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, such criminal justice reform policies promulgated by Descano allowed Brevard to evade justice.