Michael Brea killed mom with sword, police say, neighbors say cops were slow to respond
Neighbors of a Brooklyn woman savagely slashed to death by her deranged, sword-wielding son claim cops refused to enter her apartment early Tuesday despite their pleas.
The son, holding the three-foot sword and babbling about religion and repentance, was arrested in a nearby bedroom, police said.
"I could hear her groaning inside ... She was still alive, but they wouldn't go in," said Clinton Clare, 52, who lived in the apartment below the Brea family.
Clare estimated police waited an hour before bursting into the apartment, where neighbors heard Michael Brea, 31, delivering a terrifying rant at his doomed mother.
"I heard a 'Help me!' shriek," said Vernal Bent, 18, who lived in the apartment above. "Police kept knocking on the door. Knocking and knocking ... All of us kept saying, 'Open the door.'"
Neighbors said the first screams came from the apartment shortly after 1 a.m., with one man saying he made a 911 call and told where he told a police dispatcher there was blood smeared on an apartment window.
The man said police initially came to the scene and then left - prompting a second 911 call.
This time, the neighbor said, he wanted outside for cops and led them to the crime scene.
Gregory Clare, 25, whose father owns the building, said his dad gave the OK for four cops to break down the door.
"They just kept saying protocol this and protocol that," he said. "Now a woman's dead who should be alive if only the police would have listened."
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly questioned neighbor accounts of the delay, saying he believed officers handled the situation properly.
"It's a barricaded situation and that is handled by the Emergency Services Unit. What happens in a barricade situation is that responding patrol officers, if possible, wait for the Emergency Services forces to arrive," Kelly said.
Brea - an aspiring actor who once played a bit part on "Ugly Betty" - angrily screamed at his mother to "repent" before delivering the death blows.
He apparently removed the murder weapon from a Masonic lodge after a meeting Monday night and then used it later on his mother, said the suspect's uncle.
Brea was a low-level Mason who was not cleared to take one of the ceremonial swords - typically stainless steel blades with a short, black grip.
"Something happened that made him do it," said Martial Brea. "The devil entered him."
Neighbors described a hellish sound coming from the Brea apartment in the middle of the night.
"I heard this wild screaming," said Gregory Clare, who lived in the Prospect Heights building.
"Michael was yelling, 'Repent, repent, sinner, sinner,' over and over again," Clare said. "He was screaming, 'You never accepted Jesus.' It was real loud."
Yannick Brea, 55, howled for help that didn't arrive in time to save her. Neighbors said she was a 9/11 survivor who had worked at the Marriott hotel in the World Trade Center.
"Her screams woke me up," said another neighbor in the four-story building. "Screams I'll never forget. ... I heard [Michael] rambling. He was incoherent."
Michael Brea was spouting gibberish when he was removed from the Park Place apartment on a stretcher, neighbors said.
He was taken to Kings County Hospital for a psychiatric exam after his arrest. Neighbors said spattered blood was visible on the apartment windows.
The accused killer's cousin was stunned by the news of Yannick's death.
"She was a very loving person," said John Brea, 34, as he stood outside the apartment building. "She helped to raise all of us."
John Brea said his aunt was a hard-working woman employed by a local hotel.
Neighbors and an ex-girlfriend described Michael Brea as a martial arts student who showed no signs of any mental illness and no violent tendencies.
"Michael had the whole world in his hands," said an ex-girlfriend. "This is a shock."
Neighbor Clare agreed.
"I saw Michael last Saturday," he said. "He was asking about my daughter. He was always real kind."