A man was arrested on Thursday in the killing of an Army veteran in the District, but the suspect escaped on Friday, authorities said.
James Brewer, 24, of Southeast Washington, fled Friday from D.C. Superior Court, authorities said. Two knowledgeable sources said Brewer may have walked out after switching court identification bracelets with a suspect in a less serious offense.
A U.S. Marshals Service statement said he escaped from the courthouse cellblock. The service said it is investigating.
According to D.C. police, Brewer had been arrested in the death of Solomon Reese, a 71-year-old retired sergeant who was known in his neighborhood as a nice guy who tried to help fellow veterans.
Reese “was just a good-hearted individual,” said his sister. “He would give you the shirt off his back.”
He was fatally shot June 27 at his apartment house on Good Hope Road SE during an apparent attempt to rob him, investigators said.
Reese grew up in Alabama, the oldest son among 15 children, and found the military congenial, said the sister, Regina Gray. “He loved it,” she said. “That was his life.”
The family was scattered but held reunions devoted to “keeping the family together . . . praying for one another,” Gray said. Reese “would always come,” she said.
He reportedly added to his income by selling cigarettes at home.
Gray said he had been robbed and beaten at least once.
Police said items were recovered that allegedly were taken from the apartment where Reese and his wife lived.
A Marshals Service statement said Brewer, who was nicknamed “Sticky,” was arrested in Newport News. They said he was presented in court Friday on a charge of first-degree murder while armed and was held without bond. However, a court source said he had not been presented.
The Marshals statement said Brewer should be considered armed and dangerous, and a marshals’ spokesman called apprehending him a top priority. He was reported to be at large late Friday.