Vermont police have arrested four suspects they believe were involved with the deadly beating of a transgender man at a homeless encampment on May 22. The man, 38-year-old Amos Beede, died on May 29.
The suspects — Erik Averill, Myia Barber, Jordan Paul, and Allison Gee — were apprehended in San Diego, California, on Thursday night, Burlington Police Chief Brandon Del Pozo said during a press conference Friday.
Del Pozo added that the evidence authorities had gathered did not suggest the homicide was hate-motivated.
Initially, police said the crime could have been committed because of a bias; Del Pozo said officers routinely took that precaution when transgender people were victims of violence.
Further investigation revealed that the assault — which left Beede with head trauma, facial fractures, multiple blunt injuries to his face, and several broken ribs — was motivated by rising tensions among different groups living at the homeless encampment in Burlington. It was divided between those in the north and south.
One of the suspects, Erik Averill, allegedly smeared feces on the tent of the north encampment, Del Pozo said. Beede then allegedly poured bottles of urine in Averill’s tent. When Averill found out Beede was the culprit, he retaliated with the assault.
Del Pozo added that Averill has a criminal history of violence with other homeless people.
“We believe it fits into a wider pattern of aggression against fellow homeless on the part of Mr. Averill, rather than targeted aggression motivated by Mr. Beede’s status,” he said.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger on Friday called Beede, who was not homeless himself but had several friends who were, “a very warm and giving, loving individual.”
He said the murder served as a reminder of the remaining progress needed to make city spaces safer for the transgender community.
“I think this terrible incident is both a reminder of the importance of some of the work that we are engaged with, and a reminder of how far we still have to go in a number of key areas,” he said.
“We, despite a variety of new initiatives in recent years, continue to have a significant, chronic homelessness problem and encampment issue. We continue to struggle to make treatment on-demand available to all individuals who are suffering from substance abuse issues.”
On June 2, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs said in a statement, "Violence against transgender men has been largely missing from these conversations, and we must encourage a discussion of the unique ways that transgender men experience violence."