California prosecutors say a man and woman accused of shooting and stabbing a Black Navy veteran to death at a gas station on March 15 committed a hate crime.
Police say Justin Peoples, 30, was shot once and stabbed multiple times at a Chevron gas station in Tracy, California, shortly after 9 p.m. Christine Garner, 42, and Jeremy Jones, 49, were arrested the next morning and charged with murder. Images released by the San Joaquin County prosecutor’s office show what appear to be white supremacist tattoos on Jones’ body.
Garner’s Facebook page states that she and Jones are “in a relationship.” A third person, Christopher Dimenco, 58, was charged with complicity in murder for allegedly helping Garner and Jones “avoid or escape” arrest.
A complaint filed March 18 accuses Garner of shooting Peoples and Jones stabbing him. Investigators have not said what sparked the altercation, but in the charges against Garner and Jones, prosecutors allege that the people were “deliberately murdered because of (people’s) race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin.”
Peoples’ father, Maurice, told CBS San Francisco that his son was a father of two who served his country.
“He was just a remarkable young man,” said Maurice Peoples.
The victim’s aunt, Berniece Bass, denounced the alleged hate crime.
“It doesn’t matter what color you are. Some are black, some are brown, some are light skinned … we have all colors, but we know that the human race is the most important color that we have to fight for,” said Bass.
Tracy Police Chief Sekou Millington said in a press release: “If members of the community are victims of hate crimes, we will use our resources to bring those responsible to justice.”
“There is no place for hatred in Tracy or anywhere,” Millington said.
Garner and Jones are being held in prison pending a hearing scheduled for April 4.