Two men wanted in the fatal shooting of a man that set off a string of violence in an east Arkansas town were arrested by U.S. Marshals on Monday, authorities said.
Dedrick Bragg, 27, and Vann Bragg, 30, were arrested shortly after 6:10 a.m. at a home in the 1000 block of College Street in Marvell, a news release from the Helena-West Helena Police Department states.
Vann Bragg faces charges of first-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree battery, possession of a firearm by a certain person and engaging in violent criminal group activity.
Dedrick Bragg faces charges of facilitation or solicitation of first-degree murder, hindering apprehension or prosecution, tampering with physical evidence and engaging in violent criminal group activity.
Both suspects were being held at Cross County jail on Tuesday with bails set at more than $1 million. They are each due in court on March 4.
Police accuse the two of participating in the Jan. 22 killing of 25-year-old Kasey Grant while he sat inside an SUV outside a Victory Fuel gas station on Columbia Street in Helena-West Helena. A 17-year-old who was inside the vehicle at the time was also injured.
A third suspect in the shooting, 23-year-old Jason Robinson, was arrested later on Jan. 22, Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Smith said. According to Smith, a shooting call led authorities to find Robinson inside a ditch Porter Street and Poplar Street with an injury to his leg.
Robinson faces charges of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and engaging in violent criminal group activity, authorities said.
Chief Smith said he believes Grant’s death resulted in a string of retributive violence that killed a 28-year-old man and injured several other people, including a 1-year-old boy who was struck by debris during a bout of gunfire.
Helena-West Helena Mayor Kevin Smith said the city’s struggle with crime springs from two causes: decades of inadequate law enforcement and prosecution.
“It’s a question of many, many years of not adequately holding people accountable for their violence crime and drug-related crime, and so now we have a culture of that in the community,” he said in a phone interview on Jan. 30. “We have to turn that around by letting them know that there will be consequences for their actions, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The community was anxious to see visible signs that the investigations into recent shootings are being taken care of, he said, but added that fear of retribution makes getting information from residents difficult.
Chief Smith said that in spite of such worries, support from the community is necessary.
“It’s kind of frustrating when you’re trying to give the best service that you possibly can to your community, but your community has got to buy into the vision of where you want to take this police department,” he said. “It’s not going to fall on the back of one individual. It’s all of us in this matter together.”
The department has partnered with the mayor’s office to begin a public safety committee and develop stronger partnerships with the sheriff’s office and outside agencies, such as state police and, in the case of the Braggs’ arrest, the U.S. Marshals.
Kevin Smith said he hopes that efforts to strengthen those partnerships, as well as relationships with prosecutors and legislators, will reduce violent crime in his city.
“The response has been really good,” he said. “But there’s a long history, and a deep culture that’s got to be changed, and that’s really what it’s about, ultimately.”