State authorities are frantically trying to track down an ex-Marine who they believe fatally shot his mother’s boyfriend in Hardy, Virginia.
Michael Alexander Brown, 22, is accused of gunning down Rodney Brown at the man’s home, where his mother also lived, on Nov. 9. Police said Brown was shot and killed shortly before noon. Authorities obtained an arrest warrant for Brown on second-degree murder and gun charges in connection to the suspected slaying on Monday, November 11.
A clear motive hasn’t yet been fully established. However, neighbors revealed that the ex-Marine, who reportedly grew up thinking Rodney Brown was his father, recently learned the man wasn’t his biological parent, according to NBC affiliate WSLS-TV.
The search for Brown, officials said on Tuesday, is now nationwide. The U.S. Marshals, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies have joined North Carolina and Virginia state authorities in the manhunt, according to local ABC affiliate WSET.
The 22-year-old allegedly ditched his military post at Camp Lejeune — about 130 miles southeast of Raleigh — on Oct. 18. He had reportedly served there as a combat engineer. Prior to his mother’s boyfriend’s murder, authorities said he had been seen around Franklin County, reports local station WFXR.
However, police suspect his combat training may have allowed him to elude authorities, noting he's known to live in the woods, according to the outlet.
Authorities believe he’s armed with a “high-powered rifle” and potentially other weapons.
He was first thought to have been driving an unregistered white 1976 Cadillac but police say he has since ditched that vehicle for a 2008 Lincoln Town car that possibly has North Carolina plates.
Brown and the Lincoln were captured by surveillance cameras at a local convenience store in Franklin County on the day of the alleged murder.
Phillip Young, a police spokesperson for Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, declined to comment further.
Neighbors of Rodney Brown were blown away by the news he’d been killed.
“When I heard there’d been a shooting, didn’t even think about Rodney, because I’ve known Rodney,” Kenneth Meador told WFXR. “He grew up here, I did too. We were friends, neighbors.”
Meador told the local outlet he’d been home at the time of his pal’s death and had heard sirens wailing nearby.
“Rodney was a super nice guy. He was really polite, worked hard. Just a great guy,” he added. “It surprised me that, that would happen here in the neighborhood. You’d think something like that would happen somewhere else, but not back in your backyard.”
Others were terrified when they learned of the residential killing.
“The loss of a life is terrible and especially so close to us here and we felt terrible,” Rob Yanokalso told WSLS-TV. “My first thought was he's on his way somewhere else to get away from here as far as possible because you have to know everybody is looking here for him, so we weren't really threatened.”
Police are urging anyone with information pertaining to the whereabouts of Brown to contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at 540-352-5139 or 540-483-6662.
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