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Manhunt for Marine deserter wanted for murder prompts school shutdowns in Virginia

Posted at 8:43 AM, Nov 14, 2019

The manhunt for a Marine deserter wanted for murder led Roanoke, Virginia, police to shut down all schools in the city Thursday.

Authorities received a call about 4 a.m. regarding a sighting of Michael Alexander Brown, 22, who is suspected of killing his mother's boyfriend last week in the nearby town of Hardy, about 9 miles east of Roanoke.

The caller told investigators that a man in a black jacket was tapping on a house window, Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones said. Officers responded and were "able to confirm to the best of our ability that it was Mr. Brown," Jones said.

Though Franklin County authorities said earlier this week that Brown was driving a 2008 Lincoln Town Car, Jones said Brown was believed to be driving an RV in Roanoke.

The RV, located nearby, was secured by a tactical team, he said. Brown was believed to be on foot, perhaps looking for another vehicle, Jones said.

Brown deserted his post at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina last month, police said.

Around noon Saturday, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office responded to a shooting call in Hardy, where they found Rodney Brown, 54, dead in his home, authorities said.

Rodney Brown's girlfriend -- who is Michael Brown's mother -- called police after finding Rodney's body in the house, said Capt. Phillip Young with the sheriff's office.

Michael Brown is charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. The motive in the killing is unclear.

He is considered dangerous and may be armed with a "shoulder-held, high-capacity weapon," Jones said. He has family ties in the Roanoke area, the chief said.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office warned the public Monday that Brown was armed with a high-powered firearm and possibly other weapons.

He is known to frequent national parks and forests, and he may be living in the woods, the sheriff's office said this week.

Anyone who sees him should use caution and call police. Brown stands about 6 feet tall, weighs 154 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes, police said.

"He is navigationally savvy," Jones said. "He knows how to move around. He's not afraid to change his location. He's not afraid to change his look."

In addition to asking Roanoke students, faculty and staff not to report to school Thursday, police also want anyone who lives within a half mile of Patrick Henry High School on Grandin Road to shelter in place and keep their doors locked.

About 2,000 students attend the high school.

The US Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Brown's apprehension, Jones said.