Gunman in Richmond bus station shooting had long, disturbing criminal history

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — From weapons and drugs to charges of intent to kill and assault and battery, the man who opened fire at a Greyhound bus station in Richmond Thursday afternoon had a lengthy rap sheet dating back nearly 20 years.

34-year-old James Brown, who shot and killed Virginia State Police trooper Chad Dermyer after the trooper approached him inside the bus station, had served time behind bars and once almost beat his pregnant girlfriend to death.

Brown, who was shot after nearby troopers returned fire on Thursday, died later that evening in the hospital. Now, investigators are trying to figure out what prompted him to open fire inside a crowded bus station.

“I’m going to kill you; you’re not going to live after today.”

Brown told his pregnant girlfriend while he repeatedly punched and kicked her during a terrifying and bloody encounter in 2011. The incident prompted his girlfriend to file this protection order:

Brown’s girlfriend told police he had forced his way into her home, slammed her against a wall, sat on her stomach and choked her. This incident, along with yesterday’s murder of a state trooper, were far from his first run-ins with the law.

“It’s hard to understand how he was able to get a gun and travel on a bus like he did,” Col. Steven Flaherty with Virginia State Police said during a news conference on Friday.

Brown’s rap sheet dates back to 1999 and is full of charges ranging from aggravated assault and intent to resisting arrest, discharging an illegal firearm and heroin possession.

Childhood friend Terry Pryor had known Brown since the 5th grade.

“His attitude towards a police officer would probably be aggressive, I would think and standoffish,” he said. “He had been in trouble before.”

He says the two grew up in a tough neighborhood known for the Vice Lords, one of the oldest and largest gangs in the Chicago area. He says Brown didn’t care for cops.

“In this neighborhood here, we have a big problem with the police, actually,” Pryor added. “So the attitude toward the cops here is not very pleasant.”

Authorities say Brown was traveling Thursday from Raleigh, N.C. to the Chicago area where he is from. Officials don’t know why he was traveling or why he fired at the trooper.

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