Once-shy boy's fall blamed on drugs 'Huggy' Brown caught by FBI, accused of bank robbery, assault

Arrested in Georgia

Relatives recall him as doting father who became an addict

September 08, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Family, friends and neighbors know Tyreus Tyrone Brown as "Huggy" -- a shy kid who was so cute you just wanted to hug him, a teen who would do anything for a friend, and a man who loved his children.

But federal and local authorities know him as a convicted drug smuggler and dealer who helped pour millions of dollars' worth of cocaine into an Annapolis public housing project. And they suspect he robbed four Annapolis-area banks, a fast-food restaurant and assaulted a police officer in the past two months.

Brown was arrested last Monday after FBI agents converged on an Atlanta hotel room. He is charged in one bank robbery and has been named as a suspect in three others, FBI officials said.

The 29-year-old Annapolis man is to be returned to Baltimore within two weeks, officials said.

Court records and interviews with his mother, siblings and neighbors tell how Brown's involvement with drugs turned him from a lovable youth into a suspected armed robber.

"I know it sounds crazy, but he is a wonderful kid," said George Brown, 45, his eldest half brother. "Drugs did it. I should have been a bigger brother to ask, 'Was there a problem?' "

Tyreus Brown was the third of Agnes Calloway's five children and among the last of the 18 offspring of his father, George Brown. He grew up in a small, brown house in the 100 block of Old Solomons Island Road and was raised mostly by his father -- a man characterized by many as flashy, a hell-raiser, drinker and womanizer.

What one neighbor remembers most is that the family made a lot of noise -- "disturbing all the neighbors all the time," said William Brown, no relation, who lives across from the dilapidated house, which now is for sale.

But Tyreus was shy. He preferred watching television to playing outside with his brothers. And he tried to keep his siblings out of trouble, relatives said.

"My son said they didn't want to be involved with him because he wasn't like them," William Brown said.

But as Tyreus grew older, he had run-ins with police and spent time in juvenile homes, one sister said. He wasn't active at Annapolis High School. By age 19, he had a son.

It was about that time that Tyreus Brown became one of the chief organizers in a drug ring led by his half brother, Tracy, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said.

The group used juveniles as couriers to smuggle cocaine from Los Angeles to the Harbor House public housing complex for nearly three years, law officials said.

Tyreus grew flashy like his father, wearing fine clothes and adding a silver cap over one of his front teeth. He was 6 feet tall and handsome and, like his father, had many children -- including one in each of the three years he helped smuggle drugs, court records show.

Convicted in 1989

In June 1989, Brown was convicted on a drug possession count and served a year in the county detention center. While he was there, a federal grand jury indicted him and 16 others, including his half brother and a sister, in the drug ring.

He pleaded guilty in June 1990 to federal charges and served five years, according to a DEA spokesman. His sister, Tina Brown, served 4 1/2 years, and Tracy Brown is serving a 20-year sentence.

In 1993, Tyreus' mother suffered a stroke, and his father died at age 73. Brown was released from prison in August 1995; two months later, his sister Tina died.

Relatives said Brown worked hard at construction jobs and as a carpet installer. He spent time with his children, who were toddlers and babies when he was imprisoned.

"Every time I saw him, unless he was working, he had those kids with him," said George, Brown's elder half brother.

"He would ask, 'Do you need help with anything?' He never asked me for money, never asked to use one of my cars. He was always independent."

Trial this month

Brown began dating an Annapolis woman last year, family members said, and he started seeing less of his family. This year, his mother heard rumors that he was using heroin.

"I know he had got on drugs in January and I sat him down," Calloway said. He denied it, but soon it became apparent that something was wrong.

In April, Annapolis police arrested Brown on a drug possession charge, for which he is to be tried this month, and seized his 1993 Dodge convertible.

By June, family members said he wasn't looking well.

"His face was sunken," George Brown said. "He started looking bad, not dressing as well. He had a hole in his shirt, his tennis shoes were not as clean as they used to be. I didn't try to help him, and I kick myself for that every day."

On July 3, Annapolis police Officer Tim Altomare stopped Tyreus Brown for driving with a suspended license. As Altomare approached the car, Brown slammed the door into his legs, according to court documents. Altomare reached into the car and Brown grabbed his arm and drove off, dragging the officer 100 feet, court records say.

Annapolis police charged Brown with assaulting Altomare. Five days later, Brown allegedly brandished a sawed-off shotgun in a robbery at Popeye's restaurant in the first block of Defense St., Anne Arundel police said.

The bank robberies began Aug. 13; first at the Annapolis Bank and Trust branch in the 2500 block of Riva Road, then at the First National Bank branch in the 500 block of Ritchie Highway in Severna Park on Aug. 21, the Annapolis Bank and Trust branch in the 700 block of College Parkway East in Cape St. Claire on Aug. 28, and First National Bank branch in the 2000 block of Davidsonville Road in Crofton on Aug. 30.

FBI officials have charged Huggy with armed robbery in the Riva Road holdup.

Pub Date: 9/08/97

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