The Associated Press
PHOENIX, Arizona (AP) — Two people recently arrested in connection with the brutal stabbing deaths of two Burmese refugees at a memorial service may also be facing hate crime charges, Phoenix police said.
The Arizona Republic reports that Johnny Romero, 22, and a 16-year-old boy were recently charged in connection with the April stabbing deaths of 53-year-old Ker Reh and 24-year-old Kay Reh.
Police say the victims were stabbed April 28 at Phoenix apartment complex after their prayer services were interrupted by arguing teens. The site was where dozens of people from Burma — also known as Myanmar — were gathering to mourn a person’s death.
“There were statements made by the suspects at the time, which led investigators to believe it could be a potential hate crime,” Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos said.
Police said three Burmese teenagers were on their way to a funeral prayer service at the complex when the suspects confronted them.
The Burmese teens ran for help to the apartment unit where the ceremony was taking place. Ker Reh and Kay Reh, who were at prayer services went outside to calm down the suspects and were instead stabbed to death, police said.
Arriving officers found Ker Reh and Kay Reh with stab wounds. Both died at the scene. The two men are unrelated to each other.
Court records show that Romero is facing second-degree murder and aggravated assault charges. He is held in jail without bail.
The 16-year-old faces an aggravated assault charge and was ordered held on $175,000 bail.
It is not known if they have attorneys.
Authorities also are looking for three other suspects. (end)