Seattle police have spent weeks searching for Ali Muhammad Brown in connection with the June 1 double shooting of two men in Leschi. On Wednesday, the convicted sex offender was charged with two counts of aggravated murder that could potentially result in the death penalty.
But what led to the execution-style slayings of Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, and Ahmed Said, 27, remains a mystery, say police and prosecutors.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip, in charging papers released Wednesday, called the slayings “extremely violent, senseless and seemingly unprovoked.”
Two law-enforcement sources close to the investigation said they doubt they’ll truly know the motive until after Brown is arrested and interviewed. Seattle police said that one of the suspects is gay and that they have not ruled out the possibility that their deaths were the result of a hate crime.
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The men were killed a short time after they left a gay nightclub.
Last week, police detectives said they believed the 29-year-old suspect was hunkering down in Pierce County. However, police in New Jersey have linked Brown to a robbery and carjacking Sunday in the coastal town of Point Pleasant Beach.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said during a news conference Wednesday the department has been working with law enforcement in New Jersey, where she said Brown is “continuing his crime spree.”
“We have no reason to believe he’s in Seattle,” she said. “He’s extremely dangerous.”
Authorities say Brown, who is transient, is believed to be armed and dangerous.
A bulletin seeking Brown’s arrest has been circulated nationwide, authorities said. In charging documents, Yip writes that Brown’s “propensity for violence” creates a “substantial likelihood of danger to the community.”
The charge of aggravated murder carries two possible sentences: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.
Mark Larson, chief of staff for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, said there will be no discussion on whether the death penalty will be sought until after Brown is arrested and booked into the King County Jail.
The charges filed Tuesday offer new details into the slayings of Anderson-Young and Said, but they do not explain a motive for the slayings.
Police said Anderson-Young and Said were hanging out at RPlace, a gay nightclub on Capitol Hill, on May 31 and met up with a man identified as a friend of Said’s outside the club. Witnesses later identified that man as Brown.
One of Anderson-Young’s friends, who saw the man outside the club, told police that he was “creeped out” by Said’s friend and declined Said’s offer of a ride home, police wrote in charging documents.
Another friend of Anderson-Young’s told police that Said “continually talked about meeting someone outside the club later.” The friend told police that Said appeared to be texting over Jack’d or Grindr, two gay social-networking apps that enable gay men to use their cellphone’s GPS locator to meet other gays, charges said.
The documents don’t indicate who Said was texting.
After taking a look at Said’s friend outside, that friend also declined Said’s offer for a ride home, charges said.
Police say Brown, Said and Anderson-Young drove to Anderson-Young’s house, in the 500 block of 29th Avenue South, where Brown pulled a gun and killed the two men then drove off in Said’s car. It was later found abandoned in South Seattle.
Police said they linked Brown to the slayings after finding his fingerprints and three spent 9-mm shell casings inside Said’s car. The mother of Brown’s children told police that her 9-mm semiautomatic handgun was missing; she said Brown had access to the gun, charges said.
Looking at a photo montage at Seattle police headquarters, one of Anderson-Young’s friends pointed out Brown as the man who drove away from Capitol Hill with the victims, charges said.
“The murders took place less than 17 minutes after two witnesses saw Ali Brown leave with the victims in Said’s car. There is no evidence to suggest that Said and/or Anderson-Young were armed, and these murders do not appear to be motivated by robbery, drugs or any other crime,” Seattle police Detective Cloyd Steiger wrote in charging documents.
Steiger added that it’s “evident that these murders were premeditated and unprovoked and part of a common scheme or plan.”
Seattle police said last week that a motive for the slayings is not known.
Anderson-Young’s mother said in an interview last month with The Seattle Times that her son was gay.
When asked last month whether the shootings were being investigated as a possible hate crime, Assistant Police Chief Carmen Best said “nothing is off the table.”
Seattle police said Brown is also wanted on warrants for failure to register as a sex offender. In March 2012, Brown pleaded guilty to communication with a minor for immoral purposes and was sentenced to a year in jail.
Brown served federal prison time for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a plot to defraud several banks.
In that case, between January 2002 and November 2004, Brown and three other men defrauded U.S. Bank, Bank of America, Key Bank, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo and Boeing Employees Credit Union by depositing counterfeit and fake checks then withdrawing funds before the checks were returned, according to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Authorities determined that many of the men involved were supporting terrorism in Somalia.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf and staff reporter Mike Carter contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.