Reports differ on a couple of issues. Some reports, such as that of Perez Hilton, state that Mr. Brea used a "Freemason ceremonial sword" to kill his mother, and that as he pursued her, he shouted out the names of religious figures, such as the "architect of the universe." Of course, Freemasons ceremonially refer to the Supreme Being as "the Grand Architect of the Universe."
Other reports, such as that of the New York Daily News, state that police found Mr. Brea wielding a samurai sword. The Daily News report quoted neighbors saying that Brea shouted "Repent, repent, sinner, sinner," and "You never accepted Jesus."
The New York Post reports that a samurai sword was used in the attack, and quoted a neighbor stating that Mr. Brea shouted about the "architect of the universe." The Post also reported that Mr. Brea's twin brother Marcel, a martial arts instructor, also lived with Ms. Brea.
I would point out a couple of things that might not be common knowledge among people who are not Freemasons:
- To the best of my knowledge, neither Michael Brea nor Marcel Brea has ever been a Freemason. However, there are many, many Freemasons in New York City, and I certainly do not know more than a fraction of them. If I obtain information to the contrary, I shall post it here.
- It is very common for martial arts instructors in certain disciplines to possess swords of various types. My belief is that Michael Brea appropriated a samurai-style sword belonging to his twin brother, Marcel Brea, who is reportedly a martial arts instructor. Samurai swords (lightly curved and square-ended) are easily distinguished from either the European-style swords (straight and triangular-ended) used in most Masonic ceremonies, or the scimitars (heavily curved and pointy-ended) used in some Shriner activities.
- Yes, swords are commonly used in Freemasonry. They play a minor role in regular, or Blue Lodge, Freemasonry, where every lodge has an officer, the Tyler, who guards the door of a lodge in session, with a sword. Swords are used by every participant in Knights Templar commanderies. Other branches of Freemasonry make occasional use of ceremonial swords in their ceremonial dramas, called degree work. However, these swords are used only for ceremonial purposes--processions, dramatic enactments, and the like. Swords are never used within Freemasonry as actual instruments of aggression.
- Masonic swords are easy to obtain from fraternal supply houses and dealers in martial arts regalia. Such suppliers do not require Masonic membership to obtain such a sword. Thus, even if the sword used in the attack was a "Masonic" sword, that does not mean that a Mason ever owned it.
- The phrase "Great Architect of the Universe" is easy to find in many books about Freemasonry, including many well-selling books available in large chain bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders Books and Music. These books include Brother Christopher Hodapp's Freemasons for Dummies and Brother Brent Morris's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry, each of which sells very well. It is my belief that Michael Brea learned the phrase from some popular press book such as these.
- The psychology staff at Kings County Hospital, when I knew them as a prospective intern in the 1990s, were top notch. They shall give Mr. Brea a thorough examination, and I will not second-guess them here. Certainly a psychotic or drug-related incident is at least plausible. The age of 31 is a bit old for a first psychotic break, but not so old as to be all that unlikely. It is also certainly the case that psychotic individuals often have prominent religious delusions and fixations.