Police: Suspect in multiple Detroit-area slayings has died

Detroit police say an informant who was charged in two area slayings and named as a suspect in at least four others has died

DETROIT -- A police informant who was charged in two Detroit-area slayings and named a suspect in at least four others — all six of which occurred after he was released from custody in October — has died, police said Saturday.

Kenyel Brown died Friday, said Detroit police spokesman Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, who added that she couldn't provide further details.

Brown, 40, had been hospitalized in critical condition after authorities say he shot himself in the head Monday while fleeing from police in Oak Park, just north of Detroit.

He was charged Feb. 4 in the fatal shootings of two people and wounding of a third two days earlier in River Rouge, southwest of Detroit. He was also suspected in a Jan. 8 killing in River Rouge, a Feb. 18 killing in Highland Park, and separate slayings on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 in Detroit, as well as two carjackings in Detroit on Feb. 21.

Despite numerous arrests and probation violations over the past few years, Brown was released from custody “at the behest of a federal law enforcement agency," David Ashenfelter, a spokesman for the U.S. District Court in Detroit, told The Detroit News this week. The agency was not named.

That revelation raised questions about whether Brown should have been in custody when the slayings occurred in January and February.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said Thursday that his office has found no evidence that a federal agency asked a judge to release Brown months before he was charged in the two Detroit-area slayings and named a suspect in at least four others. Schneider said his office was working to get to the bottom of the matter.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman told Brown during an Oct. 29 probation violation hearing that he was going to give Brown a break, but that Brown had to "stop doing this,” The Detroit News reported, citing a transcript of the hearing. Brown was released that day.

Detroit police Chief James Craig said Wednesday that Brown should not have been on the streets when the victims were killed. He told reporters that Brown had been an informant for the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives up until Oct. 29. That same day he was signed on as a paid informant for a joint Detroit police-federal Drug Enforcement Agency task force, though he said the task force didn't know that Brown had numerous probation violations while under federal supervised release.

Brown was deactivated as an informant on Feb. 3, when Detroit police learned he was a suspect in the River Rouge slayings, Craig said.

Brown was paroled in 2010 after serving time in state prison for fleeing police and being a habitual offender. He also entered plea deals in about a half-dozen cases from 1997 to 2000, according to The Detroit News, which cited court records.

In 2015, Brown was sentenced on a federal gun charge.

Brown served more time in prison but was out by 2017 and under supervised release. Court records show that during his release, he violated probation multiple times. He was arrested at least twice last year.

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