A Louisville activist has been identified as a suspect in the attempted shooting of mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg — a case that has drawn national attention and unproven accusations of radicalism amid a tense racial and political climate.
Quintez Brown, 21, was charged late Monday with attempted murder and four counts of wanton endangerment after Greenberg was shot at in his campaign headquarters that morning.
No one was injured in the shooting, but a bullet grazed Greenberg's sweater and shirt.
Brown, a former intern and editorial columnist for The Courier Journal, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday, where a judge set his bail at $100,000.
Police have not offered a motive for the shooting, but speculation quickly swirled on social media, linking Brown's arrest to his activism and affiliation with racial justice organizations.
People who know Brown say jumping to conclusions without more information is "irresponsible," and they expressed concern about his mental state.
Brown disappeared for about two weeks last year. He was found on a park bench in New York, said Rob Eggert, his attorney.
"This is not a hate crime — it is a mental health case," Eggert told The Courier Journal on Tuesday.
Greenberg has not commented on Brown's arrest but said Tuesday that he had not met him before. At a press conference Monday, he called the experience "surreal" and said "more needs to be done to end the senseless gun violence" in Louisville.
"Too many local families have experienced the trauma of gun violence," the Democrats' frontrunner said. "Too many in Louisville were not as blessed as my team and I were today to survive."
Craig Greenberg responds to shooting
Greenberg and four members of his staff were at a meeting in his campaign office in the Butchertown Market building when a man entered the doorway about 10:15 a.m. and began shooting at him, the candidate said Monday.
A staff member near the door managed to "bravely" get it shut, Greenberg said, and others moved tables in front of the door as the suspect fled.
"I'm very fortunate to have a great team of great people who responded in that way," Greenberg said.
A police report says a man later identified as Brown fired a 9mm Glock handgun in the office.
Craig Greenberg shooting: Mayoral candidate describes shooting at campaign office, 'shaken but safe'
Officers found a man matching the suspect's description less than half a mile away about 10 minutes later, carrying a loaded 9mm magazine in his pants pocket, according to the arrest report.
He also had a drawstring bag with a handgun, handgun case and additional magazines, the report said.
Surveillance video from the building showed the suspect wearing clothes matching Brown's and carrying a matching bag, the report said.
In his eight-minute press conference, Greenberg returned multiple times to gun violence that has plagued Louisville, leading to record numbers of homicides in the last two years.
"It's been the number one issue I've been talking about since I launched my campaign," he said Monday. The incident has "just given me even more resolve ... to work together with the community to end this senseless gun violence."
In an interview Tuesday afternoon with host Terry Meiners on 840-WHAS, Greenberg said he planned to see a mental health professional at some point to discuss the impact the shooting had on him, reiterating he and his campaign team were “blessed” to survive.
He avoided discussing whether he thought the $100,000 bail was an appropriate figure but noted he and his team would take extra precautions through the rest of the election season to emphasize safety.
Quintez Brown called 'brilliant' student
Brown's friends and mentors were shaken by his arrest, calling the situation a tragedy that can't be easily explained.
Eggert said Brown is a senior at the University of Louisville, where he is an MLK Scholar and has been opinion editor for the student newspaper, the Cardinal. He is the founder of From Fields to Arena, a group committed to providing political education and violence prevention training to youths engaged in hip-hop and athletics.
He recently announced he would run for Metro Council in District 5.
Quintez Brown, 21, is running to represent District 5 for Louisville’s Metro Council.
“Frederick Douglass said that the youth should fight to be leaders today, because the men who run this country are sick.” - Kwame Ture pic.twitter.com/tUCjXXG2hS
— Quintez Brown - District 5 (@tez4liberation) December 15, 2021
U of L professor Ricky Jones called Brown "one of the most brilliant kids I've ever encountered."
"He seemed like a kid out of his time, who was misplaced, like he actually belonged to a different generation with his level of consciousness and concern," Jones said Tuesday. "I'd place him in the top five students that I've taught in my 26 years at this school."
Kentucky politicians: Attack on Louisville mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg 'terrifying'
Jones and others said they hadn't spoken with Brown much after he disappeared in 2021, and they worried he may need treatment for a mental illness.
"I think Quintez needs a lot of help," said Darryl Young, who knew Brown through the Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students. "... Mental health can be a talking point. I think what we have to realize is people are struggling, people are hurting, people are placed in situations where they do not feel like they have an out."
Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, founder of the Racial Healing Project, has known Brown since he was in high school and said he's struggling to process his arrest.
"I've seen very dangerous assertions being made about what the motives were," he said. "We just don't know. ... Everybody has a leadership opportunity here to really speak up and say we need to cool the rhetoric down and respect that we don't have all the facts.
"There's too much at stake not to be thoughtful and intentional here."
Metro Councilman Anthony Piagentini said people need to be careful about speculating on any motives until police finish their investigation.
However, he repeated comments on social media questioning if Brown could have been used as "a pawn."
"I have questions about whether or not those around him were giving him the proper advice," Piagentini said.
Khalilah Collins, who met Brown at racial justice protests in 2020, said associations between Brown's activism and arrest are reckless without more facts.
"It says anyone associated with Black Lives Matter is now a threat," she said. "It's just very irresponsible to do that when we have no information on what happened or why it happened."
How to get help
If you or someone you know may be struggling with mental illness, you can seek treatment referrals through SAMHSA's National Helpline by calling 800-662-4357 or texting 43578 (HELP4U). You can also get information in English and Spanish by calling 800-487-4889 any time day or night.
Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @adwolfson. Reporters Bailey Loosemore, Krista Johnson and Lucas Aulbach contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville mayor candidate shot at: Quintez Brown accused of shooting