Karlief Moye was running out the door of Blue Sunday Bar & Grill after shooting three of his co-workers when something drew him back inside.
Returning to the office where bodies sat slumped and bleeding, Moye grabbed a computer and took the device to a kitchen sink. He ran it under water and fired shots into it multiple times.
That, he figured, should destroy the computer that stored the security video that captured his crimes.
But he’d grabbed the wrong computer.
He damaged the one that was for the payment system. And the security cameras rolled on.
They recorded not only the shootings but also the aftermath.
When one of the restaurant’s owners who was off site from the business didn’t hear from anyone working that night about the evening’s receipts, the owner remotely clicked to a live video feed of the office, saw three lifeless bodies and called police.
Nearly two years after the shooting in Bowie that prosecutors say started with a dispute over Moye’s pay, the former bartender was sentenced Monday to three back-to-back life terms in prison.
“I watched a cold, calculated individual point a gun at three human people,” Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Dorothy M. Engel told Moye of the video she reviewed before handing down the sentence. “You chose to take that gun, take it out of your backpack and shoot those three individuals for $2,100.”
The Jan. 29, 2017, shooting left dead three men who had just opened their dream business: Jin Chen, 27; Sherwood Morgan, 46; and Xue Xin Zou, 28.
Moye, 42, apologized to his victims’ families in court. He said he had suffered a traumatic brain injury in the summer of 2014 after he was struck in the head with a cinder block during an altercation. The assault, combined with other problems in his life, left him “in a walking trance,” he said.
“I constantly wish I could take that day back,” Moye said. “If Maryland had the death penalty, I would take the lethal injection so fast.”
Moye had been working as a bartender at the restaurant after Morgan got him a job there, according to court testimony. The restaurant opening was delayed, putting Moye under financial strain, he said.
Eventually, Moye and the owners of the business disagreed over his pay, specifically what he believed to be a management fee of $2,100 he thought was owed to him, prosecutors said.
After a dispute over the money, Moye returned to the restaurant with a handgun and fired at each of the three men in the back office.
Video played during his plea hearing in March showed him shooting them, running out of the office and then running back into it. He snatched money and a computer before going out the restaurant’s door.
“He executed three people in cold blood without any hesitation,” Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Ruddy said. “This is one of the most brutal, senseless, tragic murders in recent memory.”
Police launched an extensive manhunt for Moye after the shooting, finding him later that day in a wooded area near his home in Silver Spring. As officers approached, he shot himself twice in an attempt to take his life. He was taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.
“After two shots to my heart, I failed at that, too,” Moye said during his sentencing.
Friends and family in court said that after his brain injury, Moye went from a charismatic, energetic person to an antisocial man who was lethargic and had trouble speaking.
“He has a tale of two different lives since the traumatic brain injury,” Moye’s brother James Moye said in court.
The families of Moye’s victims wept in court remembering their loved ones.
Zou’s wife said her 3-year-old son asks about his father every day. And Morgan’s mother, Rosa Morgan, said she lost a loving son who took care of his family. He cared for her when she had cancer and tended to his uncle and nieces.
“All I got to do now is go to the graveyard and see my child,” she said as she wept with anger and grief. “My child is in the grave. I can’t bring him back.”