Fort Wayne Police Standoff

Members of the Fort Wayne Police Department's Emergency Services Team arrest a man who turned himself in after a four-hour standoff in the 3200 block of Rodgers Avenue late Thursday and into Friday morning. Police officers fired a flash bang device and also shot an object through his window before the man finally surrendered around 2 a.m Friday. Journal Gazette video by Chad Ryan.

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Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
After a four-hour standoff late Thursday and into Friday morning, Fort Wayne Police Emergency Services Team members arrest a man, identified as Gregory Brownlow, outside a home at 3227 Rodgers Ave.

Violence stains suspect’s past

Man in city standoff convicted in 1970s shooting death

Fort Wayne Police Emergency Services Team officers take up positions early Friday as officers try to coax a man to come out of his home.

The saga of Gregory Nelson Brownlow is one steeped in violence.

Its main character is no stranger to guns, death or even prison walls, having spent a considerable amount of time behind them over the past few decades.

And now the 51-year-old is locked up once again.

In the latest chapter of Brownlow’s story, he’s accused of holding a woman against her will and then holding Fort Wayne police at bay in a four-hour standoff that finally culminated early Friday.

He’s now facing preliminary charges of criminal confinement, criminal recklessness, pointing a firearm, battery and intimidation.

His criminal history, though, dates back much further and includes involvement in a late 1970s shooting death of a 19-year-old hitchhiker.

But Brownlow’s latest brush with law enforcement began with someone else’s arrest entirely, according to newly released Allen Superior Court documents.

A woman was booked into Allen County Lockup for public intoxication on New Year’s Eve and, upon her release New Year’s Day morning, began walking down the street outside the jail.

The woman later told police she was homeless and that Brownlow, a man she knew only by his first name, pulled up alongside her in a dark-colored Cadillac.

Brownlow asked whether she was OK, to which she replied that she was cold and hungry.

“Well, go ahead an’ get in and we’ll go get you somethin’ to eat,” Brownlow said, according to court documents.

The two drove to his home at 3227 Rodgers Ave. where they spent the night.

The next day, Thursday, Brownlow had a proposal:

He told the woman he had a way “for her to make money” and that he could take her places to make that money, according to court documents.

The woman said she immediately knew he was talking about prostitution and flatly refused.

Brownlow said something about “earning her keep” but let the matter drop – until later.

The woman went with Brownlow to another person’s home where he got into a heated argument with a friend.

That’s when his entire demeanor changed, she told police.

On the drive back to his home, he told the woman she needed to help him pay his bills. She told him to stop the car and let her out. That’s when he repeatedly punched her in the face, according to court documents.

“He hit me harder than I have ever been hit in my life,” she told police.

At his home, Brownlow would not let the woman leave, she said, and grabbed her by the throat and threw her on the floor.

At some point, Brownlow tucked a handgun into the waistband of his pants and ordered her back into his car.

As the two walked outside she yelled for help to no avail, she said.

Inside the car, Brownlow activated the child locks and put the gun on his leg. He kept it pointed toward her.

The woman asked Brownlow if she could smoke and if he would roll down the window. He eventually relented and did so.

At 9:45 p.m. Thursday, as the car came near the intersection of Coliseum Boulevard and New Haven Avenue, the woman saw another car traveling the opposite direction.

She seized her chance, she said.

Pretending as though she were about to start smoking, the woman instead jumped out of Brownlow’s car through the window and into the street.

She flagged down the car coming from the other direction. That motorist stopped and called police.

When officers arrived, the woman was holding her side and had blood coming from her nose as well as a gash on her temple.

Police quickly found Brownlow holed up at his home.

Police commanders called the Emergency Services Team – the department’s version of a SWAT unit – and personnel took up positions around the home.

One officer used a megaphone to constantly call to Brownlow.

It was not Brownlow’s first dealings with police.

In 1978, Brownlow was behind the wheel of a car driving through Fort Wayne with a man named Mitchell Stroud in the passenger seat.

It was early one April morning, about 1:30, and the two picked up a pair of hitchhikers described in court documents as “youths.”

Brownlow and Stroud proceeded to rob the two hitchhikers at gunpoint, and after the robbery Stroud asked the youths to “close their eyes.”

One of them, 19-year-old Daniel Norris, instead fought for the gun in Stroud’s hand, which then fired.

Norris was left for dead, having been shot in the head. Stroud and Brownlow were both charged and convicted in the killing.

Brownlow was convicted of accessory to felony murder, the equivalent of felony murder in today’s law books, which means he participated in a robbery or crime in which someone was killed.

He was eventually sentenced to 30 years in prison and released in 1998, according to Indiana Department of Correction records.

At some point, records indicate, Brownlow made his way to California.

Once there, he was convicted of felony theft in the late 1990s, according to Los Angeles Superior Court records.

He spent some time filing numerous lawsuits in the California courts system against various officials, including then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Many of these suits involved complaints of civil rights violations within the Department of Correction or unfair treatment at the hands of parole officers.

It’s not clear when Brownlow made it back to Fort Wayne, but police were still outside his home as Thursday night stretched into Friday morning.

Officers continually told Brownlow they were not going anywhere and asked that he at least pick up his phone and talk to them.

They made sure his neighbors were safe and eventually fired a flash-bang device into his home.

Brownlow peeked out several times before coming out to surrender at 2:05 a.m. Friday.

He dropped to his knees as officers with guns trained on him surrounded him.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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