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Black Navy Veteran Murdered In Alleged Hate Crime Attack After Going Into Gas Station To Get Quarters For Laundry
Black U.S. Navy veteran and youth pastor Justin Peoples was stabbed and shot at a gas station, allegedly by Christine Garner and Jeremy Jones.
A California couple is accused of fatally stabbing and shooting a Black U.S. military veteran in what the state says was a “reprehensible” hate crime.
Christine Lyn Garner, 42, and Jeremy Wayne Jones, 49, were arrested after police say they murdered Justin Peoples, 30, at a Chevron gas station in Tracy, California on March 15, according to the Tracy Police Department. Several witnesses called 911 shortly after 9:00 p.m. when Peoples was found suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the upper body.
Peoples was in critical condition when transported to an area hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries at 11:09 p.m. that evening.
On Friday, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office announced Garner and Jones were arraigned on murder charges with a special circumstance, alleging the defendants intentionally killed Peoples because he was Black.
“There is no place for hate in our community,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “No one should be victimized because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. These types of crimes are reprehensible, and my administration will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law to hold those who perpetuate hate accountable.”
Peoples was found to have been shot but had also sustained “multiple stab wounds,” according to the district attorney’s office. According to NBC News, Peoples was a U.S. Navy veteran who went to the gas station to get quarters for the laundromat. He was with his girlfriend, who stayed behind in the car when Peoples entered the establishment.
Authorities have not said what precipitated the murder, but “investigators learned the involved parties were in a confrontation just before the victim was shot,” police said. According to the victim’s father, the suspects followed Peoples into the gas station.
“He had the heart of a lion to survive,” Peoples’ father, Maurice Peoples, told NBC News. “But he just didn’t make it.”
Officers on the case found the couple in Stockton the following night, according to Tracy Police. Several units within the police agency, including the SWAT team and crisis negotiations, went to the location to serve search and arrest warrants and Garner and Jones were arrested without incident.
According to charging documents, a third person, Christopher Dimenco, 58, was also arrested and arraigned on accessory charges.
“There is no room for hate in Tracy or anywhere,” said Tracy Police Chief Sekou Millington. “When community members are victims of crimes related to hate, we will use our resources to bring those responsible to justice.”
The district attorney’s office published photos of the defendants’ tattoos to accompany the press release, revealing the words “White Pride” and swastikas on their bodies.
Jail records show Garner was also charged with weapon enhancements for using a handgun during the commission of a felony, while Jones was also charged with weapon enhancement charges for the use of a deadly weapon. Both are being held at the San Joaquin County Jail without bail.
NAACP Stockton Chapter’s President Bobby Bivens spoke about Peoples’ murder at a live press conference on Friday.
“We never think that this kind of hate is in our community, but as we are all here today, we see that hate is here,” said Bivens. “A young man who was nice-looking, educated, been in the military, graduated from our local JC is out there, going to the store simply to shop and gets murdered.”
Peoples’ father told NBC News his son grew up in Stockton and attended San Joaquin Delta College before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 2010. At the time of his death, he worked two jobs as an auto parts deliveryman and as a youth pastor for a local church.
He leaves behind two sons, ages 2 and 11.
Christine Garner and Jeremy Jones are scheduled to appear before a judge for further arraignment on April 4.