(Reuters) - Four fugitives wanted in connection with the beating death of a transgender man at a Vermont homeless encampment have been arrested in San Diego, police said on Friday.
Police Chief Brandon del Pozo in Burlington, Vermont, told a news conference that Erik Averill, 21, Jordan Paul, 21, Myia Barber, 22, and Allison Gee, 25, were arrested on outstanding warrants on Thursday by San Diego police. They were being sought in the death of Amos Beede, 38, who was assaulted on May 22 and died on May 29.
The four will be charged with murder after they are returned to Vermont, Burlington Police Lieutenant Shawn Burke told Reuters. He said in the meantime they were being held in San Diego and the investigation would continue.
Bias against a transgender person had been a possible motive in the crime, but officials now believe the motive was retaliation.
“We believe at this point it fits into a wider pattern of aggression against fellow homeless rather than targeted aggression motivated by Beede’s transgender status,” del Pozo said at the press conference.
He said Averill and the others had beaten Beede after Averill learned that Beede had dumped bottles of urine inside Averill’s tent in reaction to feces being spread on another tent.
Averill has an arrest record for alleged assaults and other incidents involving transient people that had nothing to do with bias, del Pozo said.
Before the suspects were taken into custody, they were in Roswell, New Mexico, where Averill was arrested for domestic assault on Barber, the Burlington Police Department said in a statement.
Police said the suspects had driven west from Vermont and that GPS information led authorities to them in San Diego.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales