UPDATE | Suspect in trans beating claims gay panic defense

A second Atlanta man was arrested and charged in a May 20 attack on two transgender women on a MARTA train.

MARTA officials announced the arrest of Frederick L. Missick, 35, on Friday, a day after its police officers charged Luther L. Thomas, 34, in the incident. Missick and Thomas face a disorderly conduct charge for their alleged role in verbally harassing, then physically brawling with Janell Crosby and Tyra Woods.

The two women were confronted by a group of men as they walked to the Five Points MARTA Station in downtown Atlanta early on May 20. The men followed the two women into the station and snapped photos of them while harassing them with transphobic and homophobic comments. The confrontation escalated on a MARTA train as Crosby repeatedly told the men to stop. Then one of the harassers physically attacked Crosby while another man charged Woods, who was stripped of her clothes.

On Thursday after the arrest of Thomas, a spokesperson for the transit agency said MARTA was continuing to investigate the incident. A day later, Missick (second photo) was arrested. Both men were booked into the Fulton County Jail on $2,500 bond.

The full statement from MARTA released on Friday:

The MARTA Police Department has apprehended a pair of suspects allegedly involved in a fight on a train last week that was captured by witnesses on video and posted online. The two victims in the case have told local media the fight was result of them being transgender.

Within the last 48 hours, Luther L. Thomas, 34, and Frederick L. Missick, 35, both of Atlanta, have been charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the May 20th incident that occurred about 11 p.m. on a southbound train en route to Oakland City Station.

The suspects are being held at the Fulton County Jail and have been suspended from MARTA for violating “Ride with Respect,” the transit system’s code of conduct policy. More serious charges against the suspects are possible.

MARTA has pursued this case aggressively but the investigation has been hampered by a lack of witnesses willing to come forward.

Police officers who later responded to the scene were unable to get statements from the victims and subsequent attempts to interview them were also unsuccessful.

MARTA is a safe and secure transit system and assaults of any type are rare. As part of its core mission, MARTA is committed to providing quality transit service to all customers regardless of race, creed, religion, age, disability, ethnicity or sexual preference.

“MARTA does not condone and will not tolerate this type of behavior,“ said Keith T. Parker, MARTA’s GM/CEO. “I can assure you that we’re taking this matter very seriously.”

In the wake of this unfortunate incident, MARTA’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity is strengthening outreach efforts to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community to affirm the agency’s staunch support for the principles of tolerance, inclusion and equal treatment under the law.