14-year-old boy and three young men due in court in murder of French street artist

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A 14-year-old boy is expected to face charges in connection with the murder of Bilal Berreni, a French street artist who was spending time in Detroit when he was shot and killed at the abandoned Brewster Projects on Detroit's east side in the summer of 2013.

The adults charged in the case are 17-year-old Dionte Darryl Travis, 18-year-old Jasin Reno Curtis and 20-year-old Drequone Lamar Rich.

Prosecutors say all three men have been charged with Felony Murder, Armed Robbery, Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Felony Firearm.

"They took my friend, but they took, I think, one of the greatest people who has ever lived," said Andrew Roberts, one of the several friends Berreni made during his stays in Detroit.

Berreni, who was known as "Billy" to his friends here in Detroit, spent countless hours writing in his journal and taking long walks in Detroit. His art of drawings, paintings and photography took him around the world centered on themes of hypocrisy and injustice.

"I don't think Billy understood the nature of, like, going to the Brewster Projects at four, five or six in the morning, and the dangers therein," said another friend, Gustav Brovold.

After Roberts and Brovold befriended Berreni, who at times slept on rooftops and in abandoned buildings, the 23-year-old Frenchman lived with them in a loft in downtown Detroit's Capitol Park.

Brovold said Berreni made several trips to the Brewster Projects to secure old wood that he used in the room where he stayed.

The young suspects now accused in Berreni's murder grew up together in the newer Brewster Homes, and they are reportedly part of a gang that police believe is linked to a number of robberies.

When it comes to the murder of Bilal Berreni, a source close to the investigation says other members of the gang came up with the idea to rob and kill someone as a way to initiate younger members.

The three adults charged in the case are set to appear in court for their preliminary examination set for next week on September 11.

“It sickens me that a young, talented artist who had traveled the world to pursue his passion was murdered here, thus reinforcing the stereotypes for many about our City of Detroit. We will do everything that we possibly can under the law to bring the killers of Mr. Berreni to justice”, said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

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