A New Jersey man is now in custody after he pistol whipped a transgender woman and shot another woman and a teen girl outside a Philadelphia after hours spot nearly a year ago, police said.
The initial incident occurred at 4:37 a.m. back on June 12, 2022, outside an after hours spot along the 300 block of East Westmoreland Street in Philadelphia, police said. A transgender woman, a 22-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl were leaving the establishment when they encountered several people, including 22-year-old Joel Martinez of Camden, according to investigators.
Police said Martinez used a derogatory word towards one of the victims which led to an argument. Martinez then pulled out a handgun and fired six shots, shooting the 22-year-old woman once in the left arm and grazing the 17-year-old girl in the back of the head, according to investigators. Martinez also pistol whipped the transgender woman, police said.
All three victims survived the incident and four days later police obtained an arrest warrant for Martinez who went on the run and became a fugitive, investigators said.
Several months later, Martinez was captured in Camden, New Jersey, in December of 2022. After another few months, he was extradited to Philadelphia where he was arrested Tuesday.
“The extradition process took some time as it usually does,” Philadelphia Police Captain James Kearney said during a press conference on Thursday.
Martinez is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy, violation of the uniform firearms act, possession of an instrument of crime and reckless endangerment.
Officials also said Martinez was previously convicted of manslaughter in New Jersey in 2019 and was on probation at the time of the incident in June.
Martinez is currently being held on $3 million bail in Philadelphia.
During Thursday’s press conference, Kelly Burkhardt, the LGBTQ+ Liaison for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, said attacks on the LGBTQ+ community have been on the rise across the nation.
“Not a lot of people actually report these crimes,” she said. “There’s people that are getting assaulted or unfortunately sexually assaulted that don’t want to come forward because they’re afraid of what they might experience. It also may just create personal shame.”
Mike Lee, Chief of Staff of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, said the incident involving Martinez has not been designated a hate crime due to state law.
“In Pennsylvania, the hate crime statute – ethnic intimidation – is very narrow,” he said. “In this instance, we don’t believe that the evidence would meet the elements of the state crime. However, I believe we are charging under the city ordinance which is broader and is a summary level offense in addition to the felony and misdemeanor charges that ADA [Joanne] Pescatore described. We’re also working with legislators in Harrisburg to expand ethnic intimidation to include other historically discriminated groups like gender identity and things of that nature.”
While the transgender woman who was pistol whipped was not present at Thursday’s press conference, Burkhardt read a statement on her behalf.
“I can peacefully now put my head down at night and sleep again,” the victim wrote. “I’ve had night terrors since it’s happened and lots of counseling. And now I feel at peace knowing I will no longer have to walk around looking over my shoulder wondering if someone is going to cause harm to me. I am thankful by the grace of God.”