August 30, 2019 / 2:12 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles' brother arrested as accused shooter in triple murder

(Reuters) - The brother of U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles has been arrested and charged with murder, accused of shooting and killing three people at a New Year’s Eve party in Cleveland, law enforcement agencies said on Friday.

Tevin Biles-Thomas, 24, of Cleveland, was being held at the Liberty County Jail in Hinesville, Georgia on six counts of murder, three of voluntary manslaughter, five of felonious assault and a single count of perjury, according to a joint statement from the Cleveland Division of Police and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

His arraignment at Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Justice Center, where a grand jury indicted him on the criminal charges, was set for Sept. 13. Authorities said it was unknown whether he had a lawyer.

Biles-Thomas was part of an “uninvited group” that entered the New Year’s Eve house party, leading to an altercation with guests and shots fired, prosecutors said.

Two men died at the scene: Delvante Johnson, 19, and Toshaun Banks, 21. A third victim - Devaughn Gibson, 23 - was pronounced dead at a hospital.

“Cleveland Police’s Homicide Unit conducted an investigation and identified Tevin Biles-Thomas as a shooter in the incident,” the joint statement said.

Authorities declined to elaborate on whether other gunmen were involved, saying, “This case remains under active investigation; therefore we are unable to comment further.”

Biles-Thomas, a U.S. Army soldier, was taken into custody on Thursday at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Biles-Thomas, who holds the rank of specialist, is a cannon crewmember assigned to 3rd Infantry Division, said base spokesman Christopher Fletcher. He joined the Army in 2014 and was deployed to Korea in 2018 as part of a rotational deployment.

Authorities did not give an explanation for the delay in making an arrest in the case.

The arrest comes the same month that Simone Biles, 22, made history at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships when she became the first woman to complete a complicated maneuver known as a triple-double during the floor exercise competition. She is among more than 100 gymnasts who say they were abused by former Gymnastics USA team doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving a prison sentence of up to 175 years after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct.

Biles and her brother were among several siblings raised by different relatives after their biological mother, who struggled with substance abuse, relinquished custody when they were young children.

Representatives for the gymnast did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On Thursday, Biles wrote on Twitter: “eating my feelings don’t talk to me.”

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy

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