Save 75% - Only $49.99 for 1 full year! digitalPLUS subscription offer ends 12/1
NewsMarylandBaltimore Crime Beat

Terp running back told police he drove car involved in drive-by shooting

AssaultLaw EnforcementShootingsTheftJustice System

When University of Maryland football player Wes Brown was suspended last year, officials released few details to explain the action other than to tie it to an alleged confrontation with a police officer who wanted to question him in a shooting investigation.

But according to court documents in a wide-ranging prosecution of Black Guerrilla Family gang members in Baltimore, Brown told police that he was behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in the drive-by shooting last June at a birthday party for an alleged high-ranking gang leader.

As part of their investigation, Baltimore police obtained a search warrant and found a .22-caliber handgun in Brown's dormitory room. They also got a court order to be able to track his cellphone.

Brown, 20, has not been charged in connection with the nonfatal shooting, nor any handgun violations. He has returned to the Terps football team after being suspended following his arrest in July on second-degree assault charges in connection with allegedly shoving the police officer. Charges in that case were dismissed.

"I can tell you that, if he had done anything wrong, he would've been charged," said Brown's attorney, Jason A. Shapiro. "There's been no charges lodged against him from that entire investigation."

The university suspended Brown, a top running back on the team, in early August, and he missed the entire 2013 season. He became eligible to return to school after the fall semester when he fulfilled certain criteria, including completing community service. The university declined to answer questions, citing privacy guidelines, instead releasing a statement.

"The University of Maryland conducted a thorough investigation in cooperation with law enforcement officials," the statement read. "Based on that investigation and in accord with the guidelines set forth in the Student Code of Conduct, a suspension was issued. Since that time, Wes Brown has met specific criteria to qualify for reinstatement."

Baltimore police officers went to College Park last summer to question Brown as a "person of interest" in the city shooting, according to the documents related to the Black Guerrilla Family case and obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Police wrote in those documents that Brown said he was driving the vehicle — which had a bullet hole in its side — when the shooting occurred.

The man eventually charged with firing the shots is 22-year-old Montel Harvey, who was indicted in November as part of a criminal conspiracy involving the Black Guerrilla Family gang in East Baltimore. Forty-eight people were charged in that case, including Brown's half-brother, who is alleged to be a member of the gang.

City prosecutors declined to comment on the shooting investigation, citing the pending case.

University of Maryland police spokeswoman Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas confirmed that the gun was found July 4 in a dorm in the South Campus Commons. The search was not documented in campus police incident logs, and that department declined to immediately release a police report related to the search.

But officials said the case was referred to Prince George's County prosecutors, who declined to press charges. John Erzen, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said Brown could have faced charges for illegal possession of a handgun because he was under 21 years old.

"The reason we did not move forward with that is because the probable cause for the search warrant, we felt, was insufficient," Erzen said. "Therefore, anything that was recovered as a result of that search warrant would've been inadmissible in court. The warrant shouldn't have been issued in the first place, and didn't leave us anything that could be pursued."

The University of Maryland's Code of Student Conduct prohibits unauthorized use, possession or storage of any weapon, with penalties ranging from having to do research projects or being denied on-campus housing, to expulsion.

In the alleged assault of an officer, Erzen has said Brown "was resisting what could be considered an unlawful arrest."

Shapiro said Brown was "unconstitutionally stopped and searched" by police in that incident. According to a police report, he resisted accompanying the detectives to headquarters and said he wanted to have at least one parent with him during questioning. He was accused of then shoving a detective before taking off on foot.

Shapiro said Brown is working to put his life in order.

"He's been through an awful lot," Shapiro said. "At a young age, he has had to rebuild his entire life and fight his way out of unjust charges … and he's on a path now where he is keeping good company and working hard on the football field and in the classroom."

Central to the Black Guerrilla Family case is Wesley Jamal Brown, the older half-brother of the Maryland running back, whose full name is Wesley Jerel Brown.

In the Black Guerrilla Family case, prosecutors allege Wesley Jamal Brown is a member of the gang who murdered a witness to a robbery and shooting in 2013 and ran BGF operations from inside the Baltimore City Detention Center last year.

Wesley Jamal Brown's defense attorney, Joshua Insley, denies the charges.

Wesley Jerel Brown, one of Terps coach Randy Edsall's top recruits, grew up in Baltimore. In high school, Connie Dancel and her husband, Bernie, an assistant football coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, took him into their home in Howard County.

In an interview, Connie Dancel said they provided Brown a surrogate family that helped establish structure in his life and keep him away from trouble. She said the Maryland running back knew nothing about Wesley Jamal Brown until hearing about him at a funeral for another relative in 2013.

She said the Maryland player's run-ins with the law were the result of "wrong place, wrong time."

"He was not a part of anything," she said. "He has one of the best characters you will ever come upon."

The football player told reporters at practice on Saturday that during his suspension, he spent four hours a day at Good Counsel doing custodial work to help fully understand what he had lost.

"Reality hit me so quick when everything got taken away," Brown said. "All my life, this is what I worked for. When it was taken away, I was like, 'What do I do?' You get focus; that's what I did. … You make mistakes, and at the same time you learn from those mistakes and become a better person."

Brown's attorneys said he would not be available to answer further questions.

Court documents for the first time detail the events the night of the drive-by shooting. It occurred a few blocks from the Mirage nightclub in downtown Baltimore at a June 8, 2013, birthday party for Gerald Johnson, an alleged top BGF leader, as well as Wesley Jamal Brown.

Police wrote in the documents that the shooting occurred after a fight. The gunman, who authorities now allege was Harvey, emerged from a white Lexus LS4000 belonging to Wesley Jerel Brown and opened fire, then climbed back in as the vehicle sped off, according to the documents.

William Welch, Harvey's attorney, said his client denies involvement in the shooting and said prosecutors have not turned over any evidence connecting Harvey to the incident.

After linking the vehicle to Brown, police arranged to meet him in College Park on July 3, when he was arrested for allegedly pushing the officer.

Police wrote in the documents that Brown then spoke to Baltimore police at the University of Maryland Police Department without an attorney and gave a recorded statement that he was driving the Lexus when the shooting occurred.

Police obtained a search and seizure warrant for his campus dormitory, during which officers "seized a .22 caliber handgun and other contraband," according to the documents.

Based on the investigation, police on July 29 applied for and received permission from a Baltimore circuit judge to place a device known as a "pen register" or "trap and trace" on Brown's phone. The device allows investigators to monitor the phone numbers related to incoming and outgoing calls. The court order, signed by Judge Barry Williams, authorized monitoring for up to 60 days.

Fallout from Wesley Jerel Brown's arrest in connection with the confrontation with the officer was captured over other wiretaps and monitored jail calls, documents show.

Wesley Jamal Brown, who was incarcerated at the time on previously filed drug charges, said in a phone call on July 5 that "he needs Telly's face knocked off … because Telly got his brother locked up," police wrote in court documents.

"Wesley Jamal Brown has previously discussed during telephone conversations that 'Telly' sold his gun to his brother," police said in the documents. The documents don't identify "Telly."

Wesley Jamal Brown is charged with fatally shooting a man named Moses Malone in the 600 block of Cokesbury Ave. in May 2013. Prosecutors have alleged that Brown believed Malone would testify against another alleged BGF member in a robbery and shooting two months earlier.

Insley said that his client denies any involvement in the BGF and that he also hasn't received evidence from prosecutors. He said they should have turned over evidence within 30 days of filing charges, which would have been early December.

"We have not gotten one word of discovery that relates to any homicide committed by" his client, Insley said.

Prosecutors say they will turn over evidence 60 days before an established trial date. Trial is scheduled for May.

Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

jfenton@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
AssaultLaw EnforcementShootingsTheftJustice System
Comments
Loading