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5 Things To Know: Two Arrests Made in Case of Murdered Trans Women

…and four more stories from April 11-17, 2021

trans women murdered
Jaida Peterson was one of two trans women murdered in Charlotte in the past two weeks, allegedly by the same two men.

Two Arrests Made in Case of Murdered Trans Women

On Thursday, CMPD made an “urgent warning” after detectives came to believe that two trans women had been murdered by the same suspect or suspects on April 4 and April 15, and on Friday, the department announced the arrests of the two suspects. Police arrested 21-year-old Dontarius Long and 33-year-old Joel Brewer and charged them for the murders of Remy Fennell, 28; and Jaida Peterson, 29.

Peterson and Fennell were both shot and killed in hotel rooms and were both believed to be targeted due to their involvement in sex work. Police had announced on Thursday that they believed the murders were connected and feared that Black trans women were being targeted, recommending that all LGBTQ sex workers exercise extreme caution. 

During a press conference announcing the arrests on Friday, Lt. Jeff Crum said it is still unknown whether the two women were targeted because they were transgender, but that hate crime charges could potentially be added on to the charges already faced by the two men. 

It appears that robbery was at least a partial motive, as both men face robbery charges in connection with the killings. Brewer has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. Long has been charged with two counts of murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.


COVID-19 Metrics on the Rise Again

Daily new cases, test-positivity rates and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are all on the rise in Mecklenburg County, according to the latest data released on Friday. 

According to Mecklenburg County Public Health, there had been 106,095 total cases of COVID-19 and 928 deaths related to the coronavirus in the county to that point, an increase of 1,816 cases and six deaths since the same time last week.

murdered trans women
(Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to more in-depth data for cases that had occurred through Wednesday, the county had seen a 7.7% test-positivity rate over the previous week, an average of 269 laboratory confirmed infections per day, and an average of 149 people hospitalized on any given day due to COVID-19 over the past week, all of which are increasing trends as compared to the previous two weeks. 

According to MCPH, 357,433 Mecklenburg County residents (32.2%) had been at least partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, while 225,944 residents (20.3%) were fully vaccinated.

Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are currently being offered at Bojangles Coliseum through a partnership between Mecklenburg County and StarMed, as well as through private health-care providers, various mass vaccination sites, at participating Walgreens, CVS, Publix and other locations.


City Manager Lays Out New Plan for Arts Funding

In a memo to Charlotte City Council members on Tuesday, Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones laid out the framework of a new approach to arts funding for the city, moving away from the model that funneled all such spending through the Arts & Science Council (ASC). 

Jones announced on Tuesday that his staff’s plans will go above and beyond recommendations from the city’s Arts and Culture Ad Hoc Committee, which originally called for increasing arts funding from an annual $3.2 million to $4 million. Jones’ plan calls for an increase to $6 million annually, which would ideally be matched by $6 million in private fundraising, totaling $36 million in arts funding over three years. 

trans women murdered
The city will pitch in $6 million annually to go to arts funding. (Photo courtesy of JazzArts)

The funds would be placed with Foundation for the Carolinas, while also establishing an Arts & Culture Commissioner who would report to the city manager and receive guidance from a board of advisors appointed by public and private sector stakeholders. 

According to Jones, ASC would not be left out of the conversation completely, as they would be considered a grantee in the future. He recommended $800,000 in funding to ASC during the upcoming “transitional year.” 

“I have been working with ASC Chair Susan Patterson since early January as we have discussed how to develop and move a sustainable model forward,” Jones wrote. “The ASC plays an important role in the arts and culture ecosystem, and this approach would include restricted and unrestricted funds to the ASC as the organization reassesses its priorities and considers becoming a grantee in the future.” 


Pat McCrory Enters Senate Race

Former Charlotte Mayor and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory came out from whatever hole he’s been recording his radio talk show in to announce that he’s decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat that Richard Burr is giving up at the end of his current term in 2022. 

Despite serving nearly 25 years in one political office or another — six years on Charlotte City Council, 14 as mayor and four as governor — McCrory painted himself as an outsider in announcing his campaign on Wednesday. In 2016, he was voted out of office after a single term. His election loss was credited mainly to the fact that he had signed the infamous HB2 into law, which went on to lose North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars.

Following the 2016 election, McCrory made baseless and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, making him a pioneer in what would later become a dangerous precedent for the Republican Party. McCrory joins U.S. Rep. Mark Walker as the only other Republican candidate currently in the race, though there are rumors that U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump are all considering throwing their hats in. 


Four Homicides Make 28 Illegal Killings in Charlotte

Remy Fennell was one of four homicides to occur in Charlotte over the past week, bringing the total number of illegal killings in the city this year to 28. 

Around 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, police responded to Tuckaseegee Road near Pryor Street and found two juvenile boys suffering from gunshot wounds. They were transported to the hospital, where 15-year-old Shamareon McKinney was later pronounced dead. A 15-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with his murder. 

 

Just before 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call on Wilkinson Boulevard between Morris Field Drive and Midland Avenue and found 25-year-old Demontravis Reid dead of a gunshot wound. No arrests have been made in this case. 

At around 10:30 p.m. on April 16, police responded to an assist MEDIC call on Willow Street in west Charlotte and found 75-year-old Edward Moses suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to the hospital, where he later died. Police believe Moses was killed during a domestic dispute. They took his girlfriend into custody for questioning, though it’s unclear whether any charges will be filed. 


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