Michael Alexander Brown, 22, is accused of shooting and killing 54-year-old Rodney Brown at his home in Franklin County, Virginia, just before noon on Saturday. The victim was the live-in boyfriend of Michael Brown’s mother.
Brown, a combat engineer, is assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force and is stationed at Camp Lejeune.
Although a motive for the murder has not been announced, neighbors of the family told WSLS that the Marine grew up believing Rodney Brown was his father and recently discovered that he was not. The suspect reportedly grew up in the area and left when he joined the military.
Brown was seen tapping on the window of his grandmother’s house in the 2600 block of Tillett Road in Roanoke, VA, prompting a neighbor to call 911 at 12:48 a.m. Thursday.
Several hours later, the RV that Brown had allegedly been driving was located in the parking lot of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, less than a mile away from the quiet neighborhood around Tillett Rd.
WANTED FOR MURDER – LAST KNOWN LOCATION ROANOKE, VA~Michael Brown, a Marine who deserted his post at Camp Lejeune in…
Once it was ascertained that Brown was not in the RV, a tactical team using an armored vehicle equipped with a battering ram removed the side of the RV, allowing law enforcement to safely search the interior of the vehicle.
A reverse 911 call went out to local residents at 4:39 a.m. alerting them of possible danger in the area and urging them to take shelter. Around the same time, Roanoke City schools made the decision to close for the day and advised students and employees to stay home.
At an early morning press conference, Roanoke Police Chief Tim advised that Brown was likely on foot and in search of transportation.
Chief Jones also announced that Brown “has access to shoulder-held, high capacity weapons. We can only assume that he has others.”
SWAT teams, the FBI, and U.S. Marshals were on the ground in the Grandin Road area throughout the day. Door to door searches were conducted and roads were blocked off during the search.
Helicopters buzzed overhead as residents remained inside their homes, many taking to social media to follow the story taking place in their neighborhood.
Clarendon County Sheriff says #MichaelBrown was staying at Elliott’s Landing, not far from where his abandoned car/trailer was found. Camp owners told us Brown had been staying there since October 24, but left in a hurry shortly after midnight Tuesday @ABCNews4 pic.twitter.com/q4w5Y1x7z3
— Caroline Balchunas (@carolinebTV) November 14, 2019
Authorities updated the community on search efforts throughout the day on Thursday. Residents were urged to remain vigilant and to keep doors to homes and vehicles locked.
A dozen FBI agents, accompanied by local law enforcement, returned to Brown’s grandmother’s home on Tillett Road Thursday night.
Lights were aimed at the house as agents yelled commands at the darkened house. Thirty minutes later, a SWAT team entered the home, but Brown was not located. The home was searched earlier Thursday morning, and it is unclear what prompted law enforcement to search the home again.
What led up to Thursday’s manhunt?
According to Marine Capt. Robert Vachon, Brown failed to show up for duty at Camp Lejeune on October 24 and is considered absent without leave, according to Stripes.
Brown had reportedly been staying in the RV at Elliott’s Landing and Campground, located along Lake Marion in Pinewood, SC since October 24. The owners of the campground said that Brown left in a hurry shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
The U.S. Marshals Office announced Tuesday morning that the AWOL Marine was thought to be now be traveling in the RV and towing an enclosed trailer. Later that evening, the trailer was found abandoned on the side of Governor Richardson Road in Clarendon County, SC.
According to Clarendon County Sheriff Tim Baxley, “It appeared he had trouble with the trailer.”
Authorities obtained a search warrant for the trailer and found the black Lincoln Town Car that Brown was allegedly driving the day of the murder in Virginia.
A federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution has been added to the growing list of charges against Michael Brown. He remains at large late Thursday night.
The US Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Brown’s apprehension.
If you have any information please call 911 or the USMS tips line at 1-877-926-8332.
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[Feature Photo: Michael Brown/Franklin County Sheriff’s Office]