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Florida fugitive arrested in North Carolina for ‘act of cruelty’ that killed young child: Sheriff

Claude Edsel Brooks Jr. (Mugshot: Pitt County Detention Center)

Claude Edsel Brooks Jr. (Mugshot: Pitt County Detention Center)

A Florida fugitive on the run for more than 2 years after being accused of murdering a young child, has been captured in North Carolina.

Claude Edsel Brooks Jr., 35, was first pulled over for a traffic stop back on Feb. 22 and though he managed to use a fake ID to initially evade detection in the homicide case, investigators ultimately managed to suss out his real identity, according to authorities.

Brooks was wanted on a charge of first-degree murder while engaged in aggravated child abuse in connection with the 2019 death of a child in Tampa.

“On December 30, 2019, deputies and paramedics responded to a home located on the 9000 block of Sunset Drive in Tampa, where a family member found a young child unresponsive,” authorities wrote. “The child passed away at Brandon Regional Hospital shortly after being transported.”

The victim had sustained serious physical injuries, they said. Authorities cited interviews and forensic evidence in determining Brooks’ alleged culpability.

“Detectives have been working this case for more than a year, determined to uncover the real reason why this innocent child died,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “At the time of the call, deputies did not find any indication of foul play, but after further investigation, detectives obtained enough evidence to charge Brooks with First Degree Murder While Engaged in Aggravated Child Abuse.”

But Brooks’ whereabouts were apparently unknown by the time they obtained an arrest warrant against him on Jan. 11, 2021. Deputies reached out to the public for help in finding Brooks on Feb. 3, 2021, but it was to no immediate avail.

Jump to Feb. 22, 2023, in Pitt County, North Carolina. Local deputies said they responded to the North Carolina Highway 903 between the towns of Ayden and Winterville regarding a report in which a man in a Honda Civic was “hanging out the window shooting a firearm toward a home and also into a field in the direction of a District Court Judge’s home.”

A deputy performed a traffic stop on a vehicle matching the car description and reported that the driver had acted suspiciously during the stop. The man took out an Arizona driver’s license and identified himself as Rykan Ashley Green, 33. Authorities allege there was a strong odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle.

This man was allegedly “uncooperative and physically resistant” but taken into custody. Deputies claimed to find a concealed handgun in the vehicle, though “Green” had denied having a weapon.

“A computer check found Green to be a convicted felon,” deputies wrote. This individual was booked into jail, not for the local shooting, but after allegedly possessing four pounds of marijuana, “an assortment of edibles,” and paraphernalia. Charges were possession of a firearm by a felon, possession with intent to sell/deliver marijuana, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintain a vehicle for controlled substance, and resist, delay, or obstruct a public officer

Authorities said they suspected the man was not really Rykan Green.

“Deputies had concerns that the suspect wasn’t actually Rykan Green as he had claimed,” authorities said. “There were inconsistencies in the photo and info he had provided.”

Authorities obtained a $100,000 secured bond against him, but he soon bonded out and no-showed a first appearance hearing. Fingerprint analysis revealed he was actually Brooks.

Pitt County authorities said they arrested Brooks on Monday after he barricaded himself in a home on Buckingham Drive in the city of Greenville and refused to surrender. Authorities said they managed to take him into custody without injury or shots being fired.

In addition to the other North Carolina charges, Brooks was now also charged with identity theft.

The local shooting report is still under investigation, Pitts County sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Lee Darnell told Law&Crime. They’ve been able to recover evidence that showed shots had been fired, though they have not been able to pinpoint anything beyond that, including motive, he said.

“The victim’s family, along with our detectives, can rest a little easier knowing this suspect is now behind bars,” Chronister said. “This act of cruelty was a tragedy and will not be forgotten. There is collective outrage at #teamHCSO over this case, and we’re committed to bringing Brooks to justice.”

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