Texas Murder Spree: Charles Brownlow, suspected of killing 5 in 4 locations, struggles with drug addiction, brother says

Charles Brownlow, 36, arrested on suspicion of killing five people in murder spree.
Terell PD via CBS Dallas
Charles Brownlow, 36, arrested on suspicion of killing five people in murder spree.
Terrell PD via CBS Dallas

(CBS/AP) TERRELL, Texas -Charles Everett Brownlow Jr., the man suspected of killing his mother and four other people during a rampage in his North Texas community, struggles with drug addiction, his brother told the Associated Press.

Terrence Walker told the AP that his brother, 36-year-old Brownlow, lived at the home of their mother Mary Brownlow in Terrell. He said his brother "always wanted to take something that wasn't his."

"I was hoping my mom would open her eyes and realize that she needed to let him grow up, put him out," said Walker, who said an aunt was among the five victims, slain at four different locations.

Police haven't disclosed the preliminary charges against Brownlow, who was arrested early Tuesday following a high-speed chase.

Police said the attacks began around 5 p.m. Monday when a woman at a Terrell home was shot in the head, reports CBS DFW.

About 30 minutes later, fire units responded to a blaze at Mary Brownlow's house a few blocks away. When the fire was extinguished, crews found a woman's body in the smoldering wreckage. The victim had been burned to death, reports the station.

Terrell Police Chief Jody Lay said it was clearly arson. Investigators learned a white Ford Focus and an adult resident -- later identified as Charles Brownlow -- were missing from the burning home, reported CBS DFW.

At about 10:30 p.m., police responding to a report of a shooting elsewhere in Terrell found the bodies of a man and a woman who had been shot at a home and a 3-year-old boy who wasn't harmed. The child was released to relatives, Lay said.

At this point a description of the stolen Ford Focus was released to officers and, just minutes later, an off-duty police officer saw the car parked outside a convenience store. As the officer called in the sighting, the suspect ran from the store, jumped in the vehicle and sped away, Lay said.

A high-speed police chase ensued. The suspect wrecked the car and took off on foot into thick woods, dropping a holster or handgun on the way, the chief said.

A police helicopter and dogs were summoned to assist in the manhunt, and the suspect was found hiding in a creek.

The fifth victim, a male clerk, was found slain at the store.

Charles Brownlow is suspected of killing all five people, police said. Prosecutors referred questions to police, saying they weren't involved in the case yet.

Walker said his own family spent the night at a hotel instead of their home in Forney, and that he was armed with a pistol in case his brother came after him.

"We're all in a state of shock," Lay said at a news conference. "You have a tendency to think, 'How can that happen here?' This is a country community, a rural community, people are real close. This is going to be, it's going to have a really big impact on us."

The store's owner, Ali Karimi, said the slain clerk was a model employee and "beautiful young man" who leaves behind a 1-year-old son.

"We're still in the process of putting this massive investigation together," Lay said. "We're still making sure that surviving family members are appropriately notified."

Complete coverage of the Charles Brownlow case in Crimesider