AUBURN, Ala. – Police who arrested a man with an arsenal of weapons in his car are trying to determine a motive for three seemingly random shootings along Interstate 85 in Alabama and Georgia, including one that critically wounded another motorist.
Jerel Raphael Brown, 39, of Montgomery was arrested without incident Wednesday near the courthouse in LaFayette with more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition and an alarming number of firearms in his 1996 white Cadillac Fleetwood, police said.
Auburn Assistant Police Chief Michael Harris said they had not found a motive for the “seemingly random shootings" as of Thursday night, but would be investigating Brown's “digital footprint” for clues.
Authorities responded first to a 45-year-old man who had left his car and collapsed on the pavement with a gunshot to his head, apparently fired through his rear window as the interstate passes through Auburn. The victim was taken by helicopter to a Montgomery hospital.
Harris said police began investigating the Auburn shooting at about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, and later learned that a shooting had occurred an hour earlier in Montgomery, Alabama and then an hour later in Troup County, Georgia. The three communities are about 55 miles (88 kilometers) apart.
A stretch of Interstate 85 in Auburn was closed for hours while police investigated.
No one was injured in the Georgia shooting. No details on the Montgomery shooting were immediately released.
Harris said a dozen local, state and federal agencies aided in the investigation. Deputies in western Georgia’s Troup County said they identified the suspect vehicle using a traffic camera, allowing information about the car to be broadcast around the region. A deputy in Chambers County, Alabama, then spotted the car and arrested Brown, who was handed over to Auburn police.
Police released images of a table covered with what appeared to be three handguns, at least seven long guns with scopes, clips and boxes of ammunition they said were recovered from the car.
“Because of the alarming amount of weaponry recovered, combined with the actions of the suspect, there can be little doubt that the immediate collaborative efforts of all the agencies involved ended an act of danger to the public that spanned multiple communities and into multiple states,” Harris said.
Brown is charged with attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle in connection with the Auburn shooting. Brown also faces charges in Georgia of aggravated assault, possessing a gun while committing a felony and first-degree criminal damage, authorities said.
He was ordered held without bond, and court records did not indicate if he has an attorney to speak on behalf.