Court records show deadly assualt began with stolen cell phone accusation

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Victory Park statue in August, 2021. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – Brandon Gomez accused a 57-year-old homeless man of stealing his cell phone when he repeatedly pummeled him with his fists, knocking him to the ground in Victory Park, according to court papers.

A witness told police that the victim, Brian Berlo, who had no fixed address, was punched about six times in the face and fell to the ground. Eventually, he stood back up and told Gomez he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Gomez, she said, punched him again in the face and Berlo fell onto his back and hit his head on the ground. Berlo, she said, began “snoring” and struggled to breathe. 

As he was on the ground, a second man also named Brandon, kicked him three times, mainly in the shoulder area, she said.

Gomez/MPD

Gomez, 36, whose address is listed as the homeless shelter at 199 Manchester St., is under arrest, charged with first-degree assault.  He is being preventatively detained in the Valley Street jail and could be facing a more serious charge since Berlo died Sunday morning.  The incident remains under investigation.

Police learned of the assault when they were called at 7:50 p.m. on Sept. 30 about a man who was beaten in the park and was not breathing. When officers arrived, AMR medical personnel were treating Berlo who was unconscious.

He was taken to the Elliot Hospital where he was prepared for surgery.  Intensive Care Unit personnel informed police that Berlo had suffered a brain bleed, was sedated, intubated and was to undergo surgery to have his skull cut open and his brain examined, according to a sworn affidavit of Detective Timothy Carter.  The detective also was told Berlo was unlikely to survive his injury.

Hospital staff said Berlo suffered bleeding on the brain and abrasions to his right forearm, left side of his face, left eye and on his tail bone.  His upper lip was split and he had a gash on the inside of his left cheek.

He died at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. An autopsy performed later that day by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death was “blunt head trauma” and the manner of death was homicide.

At the time of the assault, volunteers with Harmony Street Ministry were in the park delivering meals to the homeless so there were a number of other people who witnessed part or all of the assault.  Ministry volunteers went to help Berlo, who was unconscious.

Anyone with information regarding this matter is encouraged to contact the Manchester Police Department Detective Division at 603-668-8711. Information can be anonymously provided to the Manchester CrimeLine.  CrimeLine Tips can be provided by calling 603-624-4040; logging onto manchestercrimeline.org, or via the secure “Submit a Tip” app.