Police: Norfolk man killed another, then set the home ablaze

Jamal A. Knowles (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Norfolk Police)
Jamal A. Knowles (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Norfolk Police)

NORFOLK – Police here have charged a local man with murder after Norfolk Fire-Rescue crews found another man dead inside a home on Picadilly Street Tuesday morning.

Jamal A. Knowles, 34, of the 2500 block of Leo Street, has been charged with second degree murder and arson.

Knowles is accused of killing 30-year-old Demont A. Brooks of the 1400 block of Picadilly Street and setting a fire inside the home.  

Around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, Norfolk Fire-Rescue responded to a house in the 1400 block of Piccadilly Street for a report of a fire. When rescue crews entered the home, they found Brooks dead inside his home, authorities said. 

Firefighters quickly extinguished a small fire inside the home and called for police.

Homicide detectives responded to the scene and determined Brooks did not die from the fire. After further investigation, detectives classified his death as a homicide. His body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office to find out the exact cause of death.   

Detectives said Knowles was connected to Brooks’ death and began looking for him. They did not elaborate on that connection.

Around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Norfolk Police Fugitive Investigators, U.S. Marshals, and Chesapeake Police saw Knowles driving a car in Chesapeake on Route 168. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle near the Hanbury Road exit, but Knowles refused to stop and sped away at a high rate of speed, police said.

The vehicle was traveling northbound when Knowles lost control, crossed over into the southbound lanes, and struck a vehicle head-on near the Mount Pleasant Road exit.

After the crash, Knowles attempted to run away, but police were able to take him into custody, authorities said.

Both drivers received “non-life-threatening” injuries and were takento the hospital for treatment.

Police said Wednesday Knowles is still in the hospital and once released, he will be taken to the Norfolk City Jail where he will be held without bond.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.