Last month’s University Police arrest of a fugitive on the FBI’s most wanted list was not the department’s first contact with the man embraced as a friend by GW students, staff and faculty for at least seven years.
UPD detained Adrian Freeman Nov. 21 and handed him over to the Metropolitan Police Department after an officer recognized him from an FBI bulletin.
UPD officers previously detained Freeman in September for allegedly threatening a student in front of a residence hall and escorted him out of a University computer lab earlier in the semester after he allegedly threatened a student employee.
Freeman, who used the aliases Antonio Freeman and Shawn Benedict, approached a student in front of Lafayette Hall and verbally threatened the student for money in September, said Anthony Roccogrande, associate director of UPD. Freeman was charged with burglary threat under the name Shawn Benedict and was taken into custody by MPD.
Freeman returned to GW’s campus after the September arrest, despite being listed as one of the FBI’s most wanted list. Freeman is wanted in Ohio for the alleged rapes of two females younger than 13, gross sexual imposition, kidnapping and aggravated burglary.
Freeman fled Ohio to escape prosecution after the incident, according to an alert posted on the FBI’s Web site.
Roccogrande said UPD officers do not run background checks of people they detain. UPD hands suspects over to MPD, which records fingerprints and performs checks that indicate if a suspect has any warrants or is wanted by the FBI, Roccogrande said.
But sometimes the system fails, he said.
It apparently got through – they didn’t catch him, Roccogrande said. He’s not the first – it happens quite frequently.
After finding out about UPD’s detainment of Freeman under the name Shawn Benedict, the FBI matched the man with the wanted fugitive, Roccogrande said.
The FBI sent a bulletin to UPD with two pictures of Freeman that included his alias Shawn Benedict. UPD distributed the bulletin during a roll call Nov. 21, when the officer who arrested Freeman in September recognized his picture, Roccogrande said.
UPD began searching for Freeman and found him later that afternoon when an officer spotted him in front of Tower Records on 21st Street between H and I streets.
UPD encountered Freeman at least one other time before his Nov. 21 arrest.
A student worker at the University computer lab in the Academic Center said Freeman was banned from the lab after a worker reported being verbally threatened by the fugitive earlier this semester.
Senior Adam Myers, who has worked in the Center for Academic Technology lab for three years, said UPD responded to the student’s call and escorted Freeman out of the computer lab when a worker new to the lab felt threatened by the man in earlier this fall.
Myers, who said he considered Freeman a friend, said the man regularly visited the Academic Center to check his e-mail using a guest log-in on the computer.
University computer labs are not open to the public, but Myers said most employees knew Freeman and allowed him to use the computers. Freeman did not return to the lab after UPD banned him from them, Myers said.
Students and employees in the 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. complex said Freeman – who they knew as Shawn – has been a well-known figure on GW’s campus for as many as seven years.
He has been hanging out in (2000 Penn) for ages, it’s like his primary residence, said Brian Keaveny, an employee at One Stop News in 2000 Penn. Keaveny said he remembers seeing Freeman around campus almost weekly since he began working at the store in 1993.
Freeman frequently sat outside of Tower Records talking to anyone who passed by – often asking for money, students said.
J Street employee Stacy Pope said Freeman tutored students in exchange for food.
That’s their way of paying him, Pope said.
Pope said Freeman even had a time schedule for tutoring students.
Keaveny said students often visited his magazine shop with Freeman to buy rolling papers. He said he thought students were smoking marijuana with the fugitive he called a campus fixture.
Keaveny said Freeman never caused any trouble and was not violent.
We’ve got a lot of homeless (people) around here and he’s probably the best behaved of all of them, he said.
Freeman often told students about a plan to sell bean bag toys that resemble area monuments – what he called historically significant Beanie Babies.
Business school professor Charles Toftoy said he introduced Freeman’s Beanie Baby idea to his entrepreneurship class, and encouraged interested students to help him write a business plan.
Shawn seems to be gentle and kind to everyone, but I didn’t know him well, Toftoy wrote in an e-mail. It seemed neat to have a student, who volunteered, to help him with his business plan. This was a way to show that the homeless can accomplish things.
Senior Christian Brucculeri, a student in Toftoy’s class, said he has been friends with Freeman for about two years and offered to help him write a business plan. Brucculeri, a member of the local band Waterstreet, said Freeman often attended his concerts at Metro Caf?.
Dave Lamphire, a waiter at Kinkead’s restaurant in 2000 Penn, said Freeman visited the mall almost daily ever since he began working at the restaurant five years ago. He said he was surprised to hear Freeman was a wanted fugitive.
It’s a total surprise, he seemed like such a harmless guy, Lamphir said. He seemed so intelligent. You could put him in a suit and in front of a BMW dealership and he could sell.
Dion Daniel, an employee at Tower Records and a GW alumnus, said Freeman has been a campus staple for at least six years.
He’s basically like (hot-dog vendor Manouch Nada), everyone liked him. Daniel said. A lot of students here knew him. They liked him a lot.
Patrons and workers at Lindy’s Red Lion in 2000 Penn said Freeman sat on the bar’s steps asking people for money almost daily. Everyone who knew him said they were shocked to hear about Freeman’s past and that he was able to walk around D.C. for years without being caught.
That somebody was sitting right here two blocks from the White House and wanted for more than 10 years is surprising, Keaveny said.
Roccogrande said UPD cannot protect students from fugitives if the FBI does not notify the University. The Nov. 21 FBI bulletin was the first UPD received about Freeman, Roccogrande said.
We have to know they’re a wanted criminal, he said. You have to have the information.
–Tim Donnelly contributed to this report.