The suspect in Monday's shooting of a Dallas Fire Department paramedic led a complicated life before police using a robot found his corpse in an Old East Dallas home. Derick Lamont Brown, 36, died an alleged murderer with a lengthy Dallas County criminal file, but he was also a controversial local community activist and patriarch of a large, growing family.
According to Dallas police, Brown shot a paramedic responding to a shooting victim on Reynolds Avenue. A police officer hauled the paramedic away from the scene and drove him to Baylor Hospital, were the injured firefighter remains in critical but stable condition. A manhunt ensued before police found Brown and another person dead inside a house near the scene of the initial shooting.
After looking through court records, social media posts and a conversation with Babu Omowale, a fellow Black Nationalist and friend of Brown's, here's what the Observer learned about Brown.
Brown had more than enough tactical experience to commit an attack like yesterday's. — According to Omowale, the founder of Dallas' Huey P. Newton Gun Club, Brown was the Black Nationalist defense group's gunsmith. "He put some of our weapons together and if we needed extra supplies or if we needed anything added to our weapons, he was the person who made that happen for us," Omowale says.
While Brown was likely intimately familiar with the type of rifle used in Monday's shooting, Omowale says, he didn't need to be. "Most Panthers and most gun club members are experienced, but at that close range that was used yesterday, even a common citizen with not a lot of experience can be accurate."
At this point, the gun club has no more information than's been provided by the city of Dallas, but Omowale says his group will conduct an independent investigation once they are allowed into the house in which Brown apparently committed suicide.
Brown had a lengthy criminal history. — In the years leading up to Monday's shooting, Brown pleaded guilty to gun charges related to carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, resisting arrest, driving with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance and DWI.
In 2008, Brown ran into a number of parked cars at around 3 a.m. on Wadsworth Drive in South Dallas. When police got to the scene, Brown exclaimed "I'm high and I have a gun" according to a police reporter. Officers searched Brown's car, finding the unlicensed gun and 3.4 grams of PCP. Brown served two years probation for those charges.
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Brown had a big family. — Omowale says that Brown had a big family, and WFAA reports that Brown fathered 18 children and had just become a grandfather. Brown struggled to provide for his family financially, Omowale says. "He wasn't in the best economic position that he could have been in, but even though he struggled, he was a provider for his kids," Omowale says.
Brown had a lengthy history of controversial activism. —
Brown was a member of the New Black Panthers, a group he served as chairman of in the early 2000s. In 2004, he popped up on the Anti-Defamation League's radar when he proclaimed that his group was "ready to die in self-defense" during a protest at Dallas Police Department headquarters. The New Black Panthers, according the ADL, are an anti-semitic, racist hate group.
Brown showed no signs of distress in the weeks prior to the shooting. — "The last time he spoke to one of our comrades, he seemed OK," Omowale says. "We're not sure what led to the incident that transpired yesterday."