Two men were arrested by Charlotte, North Carolina police on Friday (April 16) in connection with the fatal shootings of two Black transgender women.
The two women were identified as Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell, after authorities discovered their bodies in hotel rooms less than two weeks apart. Due to the similar nature of the deaths, local police issued warnings to the community, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community last week.
According to NBC News, the women were engaged in sex work at the time of their deaths. The two men police arrested, Dontarius Long and Joel Brewer, were each charged with two counts of murder and two counts of weapons possession, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit a robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Charlotte Police Lt. Bryan Crum said Friday (April 16) their investigation so far led them to believe all involved in the women’s deaths had been caught. The FBI is also reportedly working with the department to determine if hate crime charges can be brought against the men.
“I can tell you that our investigation has advanced to the point that I feel confident in telling you there is no one else at large that was a part of this,” Crum said. He added later, “If hate crime charges are appropriate, we will absolutely pursue those.”
Peterson and Fennell’s deaths are at least the fifteenth deaths of transgender people this year, nine of whom have been Black trans women.
Local trans rights advocate Ash Williams told NBC that many in the community were fearful before arrests were made and that efforts to keep people safe are being organized. “Many of them use hotels as their primary form of housing, and they don’t feel safe to be there right now,” Williams said. “So, many of us are moving up to try to raise funds for safer, non hotel housing for the Black trans women that live in Charlotte.”
Several groups have come together to raise the money including: Charlotte Uprising, Feed the Movement CLT, End Trans Hate in North Carolina, and House of Kanautica. The goal, the outlet reported, is to have a similar model to the Memphis-based transgender housing initiative, My Sistah’s House, where long-term housing is being provided for Black trans women.
Williams said, for now, that local groups and Black trans women in Charlotte, will continue their work to push for employment, healthcare, and housing resources.
“They deserve housing all the time,” Williams said. “Not just when a lot of girls are getting killed in our community.”
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