Police say an “Ugly Betty” actor is now facing charges of murder and criminal possession of a weapon after he held his mother hostage and then murdered her with a samurai sword while screaming Bible passages Tuesday in Brooklyn.
Neighbors identified the suspect as Haitian-American actor Michael L. Brea, who has had roles on the TV series “Ugly Betty” and movie “Step-Up 3-D.” He was also the face of a campaign for the energy drink Coca-Cola: Full Throttle, according to Haiti Internet movie database website BelFim.com.
Neighbors on the first and third floors of 501 Park Place in Prospect Heights heard screams coming from the apartment on the second floor at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“I hear the brother chasing her [his mother] through the house and he’s just saying a bunch of like [Bible] passages like, ‘Repent, Repent, Repent,'” said neighbor Gregory Clare. “I heard him chasing her through the house and I hear a loud scream and so I have my father call the cops, call 911.”
When responding officers arrived, they encountered the mentally disturbed 31-year-old Brea. He was very combative toward the first responders, who had to taser the man in order to subdue him.
Brea was transported to Kings County Hospital with a police guard assigned to him.
Officers described the crime scene as “extremely bloody” where the victim was discovered and immediately pronounced dead. She was identified as 55-year-old Yannick Brea.
Sources close to the investigation told PIX 11 News that Brea used a samurai sword to attack his mother, whose body was found badly hacked, decapitated and stabbed multiple times in another room.
“‘Somebody was getting murdered or something to me, that’s what it [the screams] sounded like,” one neighbor told PIX 11 News.
“I had just dozed off to go to sleep and then I woke up to somebody screaming,” said Bernard Bent, another resident. “It sounded like lady’s voice and after I while I just didn’t hear the woman’s voice again.”
Neighbors described Brea and his mother as “quiet people.” They also said Brea did not give any outward indication of mental illness, and it is unknown what made the actor snap. He apparently had an affinity for martial arts.
Some neighbors complained cops didn’t move fast enough to subdue Brea with a Taser. Police responded, saying that residents may not know that standard procedure with a barricaded suspect is to isolate and contain the suspect, then wait for the patrol supervisor and Emergency Services Unit to arrive.
Those Emergency Services officers have special training for dealing with barricaded suspects. Police say Michael Brea has no prior arrest record and there were no previous domestic incidents reported at the location in Brooklyn where the deadly attack occurred.
Brea is a native New Yorker, and has a twin brother. He attended Baruch College and, in 2007, opened a Subway Restaurant, located at 1709 Broadway in Brooklyn, according to BelFim.com.
For Thanskgiving 2008, the website says Brea gave away 300 turkey foot-long sandwiches for free.
“I remember growing up and my mother was always feeding people who were less fortunate,” Brea told BelFim.com in a July 2009 interview. “My parents [Marcel and Yannick] raised me to always share and to give charity in the name of God!”
Charges are pending against Brea as the investigation continues.