TERRELL — An overnight manhunt in Kaufman County led to the arrest of a 36-year-old Terrell man after five people were found killed at four separate locations Monday.
Charles Everett Brownlow Jr. was arrested following a car chase with police, sheriff's deputies and state troopers. The chase began Monday night and went into the early morning hours Tuesday. At about 1:30 a.m., the chase ended when Brownlow crashed his car on College Mound Road and fled into a wooded area south of U.S. 80, where he was later apprehended.
"We're all in a state of shock," said Terrell police Chief Jody Lay. "This is going to have a big impact on us."
Authorities found the first victim at about 5 p.m., which is when they received a report of a shooting in the 300 block of Tyler St. Upon arriving at the scene, police found the body of a woman with a bullet wound to the head.
About 30 minutes later and only a few blocks away from the first crime scene, a Terrell firefighter spotted a house ablaze in the 300 block of Stalling St. As firefighters worked to extinguish the fire, the body of another woman was found inside the residence. Authorities said the fire was a clear case of arson and noted Brownlow — who lives at the home — was missing from the residence, along with a 2002 white Ford Focus.
"I'm at a total loss," said Terrence Walker, who identified himself as Brownlow's brother. "My mom was so quiet and good."
Walker said his mother, 63-year-old Mary Brownlow, was the victim found in the burning home. He also said his aunt, Belinda Walker, was another victim.
Terrell police said they quickly linked the two crime scenes and began a search for both Brownlow and the missing vehicle.
It was hours after the second body was found before authorities received their next call at about 10 p.m., which is when a 911 caller reported a shooting in the 800 block of N. Francis St. involving a suspect fitting Brownlow's description. No one was injured at that address.
Then, at 10:27 p.m., police found a man and woman dead at another residence in the 800 block of Eulalia Dr. A 3-year-old child was found uninjured in a bed inside the home.
Ten minutes later, an officer spotted the Ford Focus at a convenience store in the 700 block of W. Moore Ave. At the scene, the officer spotted the suspect, who made an escape as the officer called in an alert. Authorities later found the body of store clerk Luis Leal inside the store.
The suspect fled the scene by car and led police on a chase through several neighborhoods before the vehicle wrecked on College Mound Road, which dead ends. Police said Brownlow fled on foot into an area with heavy brush.
At about 1:30 a.m., a helicopter spotted Brownlow hiding in a creek near Gardner and Canton streets, where he was taken into custody.
The motive for the crimes is under investigation.
"I'm devastated," Walker said. "... I'm in a daze. It must have been drugs."
Clarence Graham said one of the victims is his first cousin.
"I'm still in shock about it," he said. "I've got to let it soak in. I don't know. It's something that's hard to deal with."
Denise Fields, who lives in the neighborhood where the first two bodies were found, was trying to absorb the tragedy on Monday night.
"This is a good community, and we don't know what happened and what triggered it all," she said. "It's something that God is going to have to handle."
Terrell police Capt. A.D. Sansom said the "massive" investigation is still underway and the victims' next of kin are being notified. In a news release, the department said investigators will be interviewing the suspect Tuesday and will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. to disclose more information.
Family and friends of Leal have planned a vigil for 6 p.m. at the Terrell Chamber of Commerce.
Terrell is 30 miles east of Dallas.