Police believe that the violent home invasion in Brookline in July was carried out by members of a Lowell-based gang, and resulted in the theft of more than $700,000 worth of jewelry from a victim who lives at 45 Warren Street, according to court documents filed by police.
Brookline police indicated that at least four people may have been involved in the crime, the two who were arrested Wednesday and two others, one of whom they have not identified, according to the documents.
Two of the men identified — Manuel Alicea and Corey Buchannan — are members of a Lowell gang called Brown Mafia, police say. The third, Dominic Hardin, is an associate of the gang, police say. All three have criminal records, and Buchannan, who remains at large, was released from prison in May of this year.
The three, plus the fourth unidentified person, traveled into Brookline together from Tewksbury early July 18 in two cars belonging to two of the men’s girlfriends, according to a police report.
Once they arrived, three of the men spent an hour outside the house at 45 Warren Street, before gaining entry to the home, according to the report. Two of the men had guns, which could be seen on home security video footage.
They entered the home through a door. One of the victims, who the report names as Zhan Chuan Long, said he woke to someone holding him down and striking him in the face. His brother, Fei Long, was awakened by the commotion and ran toward the noise, where he saw a male subject pointing a firearm at him. The attackers fled when Zhan Chuan Long threw a lamp at them, police say. One of the guns was fired as the suspects left the house; the report does not say who fired the gun or whether it discharged accidentally.
Zhan Chuan Long told police that he believed the suspects took five expensive pieces of jewelry that he had been wearing before leaving them on his mattress when he went to sleep: a gold necklace worth $30,000, an orange Beeswax necklace worth $50,000, an amulet necklace with a Buddha figurine worth $200,000, a Lenova watch worth $150,000 and a Cartier bracelet worth $275,000.
Fei Long told police the brothers are co-owners of a biotech firm.
Neither brother is fluent in English, and police interviewed them through an interpreter.
It appears that the victims did not know the suspects, said Deputy Superintendent Paul Campbell, a spokesperson for the Brookline police, and detectives are still investigating how the suspects chose to rob the Warren Street home.
David Traub, a spokesperson for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, deferred questions about the specifics of the case to Brookline police.
Investigation uses string of cameras
Police relied heavily on security cameras during the investigation, according to the report.
Police identified the cars used in the crime and tracked their movements on the morning of July 18 with footage from neighbors’ security cameras, including Ring doorbell cameras, surveillance cameras from local businesses, a Brookline municipal camera system called CIMS, and an automated license plate recognition system called Flock, which captures the license plate of every vehicle passing by its cameras. (The American Civil Liberties Unions has called use of Flock part of a “worrisome trend” of mass surveillance.)
Police also used cell phone records to track the previous movements of the suspects, finding that Buchannnan had been in Brookline early on July 9, a week before the home invasion, and had called Alicea four times while in town that morning.
“Investigators believe Buchannan was conducting surveillance in advance to study the routes in and out of Brookline, as well as evaluating security measures in place by the residents of 45 Warren Street,” the report says.
Alicea and Hardin have pleaded not guilty and are being held in custody. They are due in court next on Tuesday, Oct. 3, for a dangerousness hearing. Police have a warrant out for Buchannan’s arrest.