Marine deserter from NC wanted for murder spotted in Roanoke, Virginia, prompting a school shutdown

ROANOKE, Va. — The manhunt for a Marine deserter wanted for murder led Roanoke, Virginia, police to shut down all schools in the city Thursday.

Authorities received a call about 4 a.m. regarding a sighting of Michael Alexander Brown, 22, who is suspected of killing his mother’s boyfriend last week in Hardy, about 9 miles east of Roanoke.

The motive in the killing is unclear.

Brown deserted his post at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina last month, police said.

Though Franklin County authorities said this week he was driving a 2008 Lincoln Town Car, Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones said Brown was driving an RV when he was spotted in Roanoke.

A resident called police to say that a man in a black jacket was tapping on a window, and police responded and were “able to confirm to the best of our ability that it was Mr. Brown,” Jones said,

The RV, which was located nearby, was secured by a tactical team. Brown was believed to be on foot, perhaps looking for another vehicle, Jones said.

Brown is considered dangerous and may be armed with a “shoulder-held, high-capacity weapon,” Jones said. He has family ties in the Roanoke area, the chief said.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office warned the public Monday that Brown was armed with a high-powered firearm and possibly other weapons.

Anyone who sees him should use caution and call police. Brown stands about 6 feet tall, weighs 154 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes, police said.

Brown was last seen wearing a black jacket, Jones said.

“He is navigationally savvy,” Jones said. “He knows how to move around. He’s not afraid to change his location. He’s not afraid to change his look.”

In addition to asking students, faculty and staff not to report to school Thursday, police also want anyone who lives within a half mile of Patrick Henry High School on Grandin Road to shelter in place and keep their doors locked.

About 2,000 students attend the high school.

The US Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Brown’s apprehension, Jones said.

North Carolina authorities have charged Brown with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

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