By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 14, 2010; B01
Detectives think the person of interest taken into custody Saturday night in connection with the killing of a Maryland State Police trooper outside a Forestville restaurant is probably the man who shot the trooper, a law enforcement source said.
That's based largely on the account of an eyewitness who observed the incident from the parking lot, the source said Sunday.
Investigators have questions in the killing of Trooper Wesley Brown, 24, who was off duty and working security at the Applebee's when he was shot early Friday. But they consider the person in custody -- a man in a light-blue shirt whom Brown escorted out of the restaurant about 30 minutes before the shooting -- to be the primary suspect, the source said.
Authorities have not identified the man in custody.
"The guy that was ejected from the restaurant looks like he's probably the shooter," said a law enforcement source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no one has been charged and the investigation is ongoing.
Maj. Andrew Ellis, a senior spokesman for the Prince George's County police department, said that the shooting occurred about 30 minutes after the man was escorted out and that it was possible the man could produce an alibi. Other law enforcement sources also acknowledged that possibility and said detectives know only that the man in custody was the man escorted out.
Cpl. Clinton Copeland, another Prince George's police spokesman, said the man was being held Sunday on "an unrelated charge" that was "not related to anything dealing with this investigation." He said that he did not know what that charge was or how long the man might be kept in police custody but that the investigation into Brown's killing was "moving along at a very good pace."
"They're being very careful and very cautious," Copeland said. "It's moving in a positive direction, and hopefully we will be able to close it soon."
Investigators have some evidence to indicate that the man acting disorderly was also the shooter, sources have said. He is the only one with a clear motive, having been escorted out of the restaurant by Brown, sources said. He was also apparently spotted by a witness in the parking lot, a source said.
A law enforcement source said that detectives and prosecutors are waiting to review footage from a security camera outside Applebee's and that they are hoping to collect more evidence Monday.
Law enforcement sources have said that whoever shot Brown fired about a half-dozen shots from a distance of 50 feet or more and that one shot had somehow made its way past his bulletproof vest, piercing his heart. Another round struck Brown in the ankle, a law enforcement source said.
Brown, a 3 1/2 -year veteran of the state police who was active in the Seat Pleasant community and founded a mentoring group for youths, never had a chance to draw his weapon, police said. He was talking on his cellphone and was apparently ambushed by the shooter, police said.