Nashville man charged in death of homeless man - WSMV News 4

Nashville man charged in death of homeless man

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Christopher Crowley & Robert Mitchell (Photos from Metro Police) Christopher Crowley & Robert Mitchell (Photos from Metro Police)

Nashville's homeless community is living in fear after one of its own was killed downtown Thursday morning.

Christopher Jerald Crowley, 29, of Edmonson Circle, was arrested and charged with criminal homicide.

Crowley is accused of shooting and killing Robert Mitchell, 41, as Mitchell sat on a public bench at the intersection of Third Avenue North and James Robertson Parkway, across the street from Metro police headquarters.

Mitchell was found dead about 3 a.m. with a single gunshot wound to the head.

Surveillance cameras outside the Criminal Justice Center captured images of a car turning onto Third Avenue from James Robertson, quickly moving into the southbound travel lane - facing the wrong way - and stopping near the bench.

The driver then briefly got out of the car before jumping back in and speeding away. A witness in the area reported hearing a gunshot at about the same time, police said.

Security officers recorded the license plate number on the car, a 2005 Nissan Altima, and police found it was registered to Crowley. Police then traveled to the parking lot of his residence at Brandywine Apartments, where they saw Crowley wearing similar clothing seen in the surveillance video, police said.

Homicide detectives are investigating possible connections between this case and previous unsolved shootings involving the Nashville homeless community.

Edward Matthews, 46, was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head on a public bench at Church Street and Fifth Avenue North early on the morning of Nov. 3, 2009.

Also, Albanus Kitaka, 63, was sleeping outside 242 Fifth Avenue North on March 10, 2009, when he was shot in the mouth. He was treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and has since recovered.

An advocate for the homeless community said recent cases of attacks on the homeless is disturbing.

"They're already struggling in life as it is. This is additional fear on top of that, and it just makes it harder," said Ed Grimes, with the Nashville Rescue Mission.

Grimes said, in many cases, the homeless are misunderstood and, therefore, often targeted.

"We have for a long time stereotyped the homeless as just being throwaways in our society. And that's unfortunate, because everybody out there is somebody's brother. They're somebody's father, somebody's uncle," he said.

That includes David Brown, a father of two who knows all too well the dangers of living on the streets.

"It's rough. It's rough," he said.

Before coming to the Nashville Rescue Mission six months ago, Brown spent many nights sleeping on park benches, under bridges and anywhere he could find.

"I didn't like it, but it's something I had to do," he said. "I don't carry no weapon or nothing like that if I'm out. I just trust in God."

Crowley is jailed on $250,000 bond.

Anyone who has any information about Crowley or these other cases is asked to contact the homicide/cold case unit at 862-7329.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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