Family of trooper shooting suspect believes he had "mental breakdown"

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The family of a Chesterfield man accused of killing a Virginia State Police trooper is offering some insight into the alleged shooter's mindset.

Russell Brown's sister, cousin and aunt say he was suffering from a series of personal problems, including unemployment, eviction, the death of his mother and an ongoing child custody dispute.

Brown had a custody hearing on February 25 related to his seven-year-old twins, Raven and Russell. They say he wasn't able to keep up with "enormous" child support payments and had lost visitation rights. The children moved out of state, which they believe led to a deep depression.

"That's not my brother. I know him all my life and he's not that type of person to just go out and cold-bloodedly shoot someone or anyone," said his sister Michelle Brown. "I do think that he had a mental breakdown and I just think that it was so much pressure as far as his kids not being in his life."

His family says they hadn't heard from Brown for the past two weeks, but his sister believes she noticed that something was wrong with him. She says he was acting  more paranoid and was severely depressed. They were in complete shock by news of the shooting.

Brown made his first court appearance Friday morning on an attempted capital murder and murder charge, where he seemed resigned to facing the death penalty.

"Y'all are going to execute me anyway," Brown told the judge. "Why would I need an attorney?"

Brown is accused of killing Master Trooper Junius A. Walker and engaging in a shoot-out with responding officers on Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie Thursday afternoon.

His family members offered their condolences to the family of Virginia State Police Master Trooper J. A. Walker.

"Our hearts go out to the family of Trooper Walker, most definitely," said his aunt Deone McWilliams. "Please forgive Russell for his  actions and I know that God has a place in heaven for him and will heal the hurt upon the hearts of the family members."

Brown was a Monacan High School graduate and most recently worked as a barber at Agape Barber Shop in the Southside Plaza.

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