A pair of alleged white supremacists in California were arrested for fatally shooting an unarmed Black man at a gas station earlier this week in what prosecutors are pursuing as a race-based hate crime, local prosecutors have announced. Christina Lyn Garner and Jeremy Wayne Jones are facing a slew of felonies, including one count of murder and one count of special circumstances murder due to race in the death of 30-year-old Justin Peoples, court documents reviewed by Law&Crime show.
In addition to the murder and hate crime charges, the pair face counts intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily harm or death, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, use of a deadly weapon. Garner was also charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
“There is no place for hate in our community. No one should be victimized because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion,” District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said in a press release. “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.”
Salazar also stated that the two suspects have a history of racist affiliations that included “support of Nazi, white pride, skinhead, and Aryan brotherhood” groups, Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA reported.
According to prosecutors, officers with the Tracy Police Department on the evening of March 15, 2022 responded to a 911 call regarding a man being shot at a Chevron gas station located in the 3700 block of North Tracy Boulevard. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found the victim, later identified as Peoples, suffering from severe injuries. Police said he sustained at least one gunshot wound to the upper body and multiple stab wounds.
The Tracy Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) quickly identified Garner and Jones as the alleged culprits, authorities said. The SIU (with assistance from a SWAT team, the Crisis Negotiations and Tactical Dispatch Units, and a drone team) took the couple into custody at a residence located in the 1500 block of De Ovan Avenue in Stockton at approximately 9:15 a.m., the Tracy Press reported.
Peoples was rushed to a the San Joaquin General Hospital trauma center in critical condition, the police department said. But doctors were unable to resuscitate Peoples and he was pronounced dead 11:10 p.m, KCRA reported.
In charging documents filed Friday in the Superior Court of California for San Joaquin County, prosecutors alleged that Garner and Jones “intentionally killed” Peoples because of his “race, religion, nationality, or country of origin.”
Following their arrests, Garner and Jones were booked into the San Joaquin County Jail. Prosecutors also released photographs which purport to show Jones’s tattoos. Those inscriptions appear to depict the words “white pride” on the defendant’s arms.
Other white supremacist messages are also allegedly visible. One of the defendant’s marks — as portrayed in the images — contains the number “88,” which the Anti-Defamation League says “is a white supremacist numerical code for ‘Heil Hitler.'” Another of his tattoos shows a swastika, according to the images released by the prosecutor.
“There is no room for hate in Tracy or anywhere,” Tracy Police Chief Sekou Millington said in a statement. “When community members are victims of crimes related to hare, we will use our resources to bring those responsible to justice.”
Per KCRA, Millington also said that the evidence uncovered by investigators thus far points to the attack be “unprovoked,” calling it a “senseless act of violence.”
A third defendant, Christopher Dimenco, 58, was charged with being an accessory to the killing of Peoples.
Read the charging document below.
[images via San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office]
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