A hate crime? Police say men solicited sex from transwomen before shooting, killing them

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- A bit of closure came for the LGBTQ community in Charlotte Friday after police announced the arrests of two men accused of killing two transgender women.

Many in the community have been on edge for the last 11 days because of those killings.

Remi Fennel and Jaida Petersen were the two Black transwomen who were shot. Police say Joel Brewer, 33, and Dontarius Long, 21, were the men who murdered them.

Police say the two men solicited sex from Fennel and Petersen, and the transwomen were both found shot to death. The two murders were less than two weeks apart and CMPD said immediately the similarities were extremely concerning.

“The question is: Could this be characterized as hate crimes? That’s certainly something we’re looking into. I’ve been on the phone with thought people from the FBI and that’s a conversation that we’re having on an ongoing basis. I think as I stated before, that’s a huge concern we have,” CMPD Lt. Brian Crum said.

Brewer and Long did not have any personal connection to the two victims, according to police.

“We believe that there was some sexual activity and we think that that’s how they connected specifically how that is,” said Crum.

The LGBTQ community is shaken after these tragic incidents. Jenny Jaymes Gunn said, unfortunately, violence against transgender people is all too common.

“By our nature, unfortunately, we are, you know, we’re targets and those and more specifically, transwomen of color, African-American transwomen of color, and Latinx transwomen of color,” Gunn said.

Recently, The Human Rights Campaign, at least 14 transgender people have been violently killed, just in the last four months. A Human Rights Campaign study also showed that Black transwomen are the most susceptible to violent crimes.

“Personally, I would carry some mace, I would carry some, you know, some self-defense stuff, whatever you need to do,” Gunn said. “I would make sure, you know, somebody knows where you’re at. If you are meeting a client, make sure that you know that you have somebody you’re going to call when you leave.”

Police said there is no evidence anyone else besides Brewer and Long were involved in these murders.

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