Suspect Arrested in “Hate-Motivated” Homicide of Gay Georgia Man

Police have charged 21-year-old Joshua Cortez Ellis with the June 4 shooting death of Ronald “Trey” Peters, a 28-year-old gay social worker in Decatur, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Ellis, who was arrested last month on unrelated armed robbery and aggravated assault charges, remains in custody at the Clayton County jail.

Courtesy DeKalb County Police

Last month police released surveillance photos of three people of interest in the deadly shooting: Ellis (left), Shaleeya Moore (center), and another man (right) who has not yet been identified. Police have issued a murder warrant for Moore, who is still wanted in connection with the crime.

According to a DeKalb police incident report, bystanders say the masked gunman used anti-gay slurs as he demanded that Peters hand over his backpack. He then shot Peters multiple times with a pistol before driving off in a four-door maroon truck with his accomplices. Peters was taken to nearby hospital and later pronounced dead.

Authorities marked the robbery and fatal shooting as a “hate-motivated” incident, but Georgia does not have a hate crimes law allowing for steeper penalties against bias-related crimes.

Peters’ partner, unnamed in the police report, recalled an incident of homophobic harassment on the street a few weeks prior to the shooting.

Heather Olsen, a longtime friend of Peters and a witness to the shooting, called him “the best person I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

Anyone with info on Moore or the third suspect’s identity is encouraged to contact DeKalb police at 770-724-7850 or Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477.

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