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Two White Suspects Charged With Murder, Hate Crime in Killing of Black Youth Pastor

justin peoples
Police mugshots of Jeremy Wayne Jones and Christina Lyn Garner (via CNN)

Christina Lyn Garner, 42, and Jeremy Wayne Jones, 49, have been charged with murder with a special circumstance after allegedly killing 30-year-old youth pastor Justin Peoples at a Tracy, CA Chevron gas station. Police and prosecutors believe the murder was racially motivated. 

A third suspect, Christopher Dimenco, 58, was also arraigned on accessory charges.

On March 15, police responded to reports of a shooting. When they arrived on the scene, they discovered that Peoples had suffered from a gunshot and multiple stab wounds. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

After an investigation conducted by the Tracy Police Department Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Special Enforcement Team (SET), Garner, Jones, and Dimenco were taken into custody and charged. 

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“There is no place for hate in our community. No one should be victimized because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar in a statement. “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.”

“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.”

Salazar told CNN that investigators believe Peoples didn’t know Garner, Jones or Dimenco personally. Police were able to identify the assailants from the gas station’s surveillance footage, which captured their car’s license plate number. 

“Based on what we’ve observed, based on the past history of the involved parties, we believe we can make this special circumstance of a hate crime and take it all the way to trial,” Salazar said during a news conference.

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Jones bears several tattoos, some of which indicate that he is a white supremacist.