Schools reopen after RV of Marine wanted in fatal shooting found in area
More than two dozen schools in southwest Virginia were forced to close Thursday after the vehicle associated with a member of the United States Marine Corps wanted for murder was found in the area.
Authorities have been searching for 22-year-old Michael Alexander Brown since Sunday when he was named as a suspect in the fatal shooting of 54-year-old Rodney Brown, who was found dead last Saturday at his home in Hardy, Virginia, some 9 miles southeast of Roanoke.
Michael Alexander Brown is the son of Rodney Brown’s live-in girlfriend, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency dispatchers in Roanoke received a 911 call early Thursday morning detailing a suspicious man dressed in a black lace-linked coat near Patrick Henry High School in the city’s Grandin Court neighborhood, according to Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones told reporters at a press conference.
Investigators later confirmed that the man was likely Michael Alexander Brown and found his RV parked on nearby road, Jones said.
Roanoke City Public Schools, which encompasses 28 schools, including Patrick Henry High School, made the decision to cancel school for the day as authorities ordered residents in the area to shelter in place.
Police have since advised that schools in the area can open Friday, according to a statement from Roanoke City Public Schools.
The United States Marshals Service had previously received information that he may be operating the RV and pulling an enclosed trailer in the area of Clarendon County, South Carolina. The trailer was located in South Carolina on Sunday night with the black 2008 Lincoln Town Car he had previously been thought to be traveling in.
Clarendon County Sheriff Tim Baxter told ABC News that Michael Alexander Brown had been staying at a campground in the area from Oct. 24 until sometime before Saturday, when the murder occurred.
The owner of the campground told Charleston ABC affiliate WCIV that Michael Alexander Brown stood out from the other campers because he was always wearing a three-piece suit.
He allegedly returned to Clarendon County somewhere between Monday and Tuesday and later left the trailer on the side of the road, according to Baxter.
The Marine is now likely on foot or searching for alternative modes of transportation, as all of the vehicles he would have access to have been cleared, according to Jones.
Michael Alexander Brown was serving as a combat engineer for the Marine Corps until around Oct. 18, when he deserted his post at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He has been seen in around Virginia’s Franklin County in recent weeks, according to authorities.
He has access to weapons, including those with high-capacity magazines, and “knows how to maneuver his way around various types of terrain,” Jones said.
It is unknown where he may be headed, but he has been known to live in the woods or visit national parks, authorities said. Jones cautioned residents in the area to remain vigilant.
Franklin County authorities have issued an arrest warrant for second-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony for him.
The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway, Luis Martinez, Ben Stein and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.