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PIX11 producer plays role in surrender of Brooklyn ax attack suspect

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-21 18:36:20-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — The NYPD is thanking PIX11 for helping in the arrest of the suspected killer in a brutal ax attack that left one woman dead and another critically injured.

"I didn’t approach the conversation as if I was talking to a murderer," Ava Pittman, a PIX11 digital producer and assignment editor, said Sunday. "I just wanted to know what went on inside that apartment, apartment 8J."

Pittman reported the story of the gruesome New York murder on Saturday.

Savannah Rivera, 20, was partially decapitated and hacked to death with an ax early Saturday morning in the Bushwick Houses in Williamsburg.

When Pittman learned the name of the surviving woman, the PIX11 producer searched the woman's Facebook page for information about a possible boyfriend.

Pittman found someone calling themselves "Grim Creepa" and messaged him to call her in the PIX11 newsroom – and he did.

“He was crying and you could hear him sniveling,” Pittman recalled. “He told me that he suffered from  schizophrenia, and he was bipolar and had severe paranoia."

Pittman said the man, now identified by police as 34-year-old Jerry Brown, told her he did not remember much about the attack.

He told Pittman that he had a "busted" lip, and hand injury and had staples in his head, and was off his medication.

“He asked me, 'What do you think I should do?' I said, 'You need to call police. You need to go down to the precinct,'" Pittman said.

After the 15-minute phone call, the man who identified himself as "Jerry" called Pittman back asking for the number of the 90th police precinct.

Within half an hour of that second phone call, at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, police confirmed that Jerry Brown was in custody.

Later Saturday night police said he was charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Jessica Cruz, the mother of Angela Valle, described the horrific details of her daughter's critical state in a heartbreaking post on Facebook:

My daughter's head was slashed open with an ax almost from back to front. My daughter's throat was slashed as he tried to cut her head off. My daughter's stomach was slashed open[ed]. She's fighting hard for her life my daughter will never be the same; not mentally, not physically.

In a statement on Twitter, NYPD Chief of Department, Terence Monahan thanked Pittman and PIX11 News for 'helping to bring justice to the victims of this horrendous crime.'

“What happened in that apartment was brutal, was gruesome," Pittman said. “Our condolences go to the family of Savannah Rivera and the other victim, as well. I hope that they do get justice, and I also hope that Jerry gets the help he so desperately needs."

Brown is currently under arrest but also being treated at an area hospital.

His ex-girlfriend, Valle, is being treated at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.