Police said an arrest has been made in a case in which a man was gunned down at the Hixson La Quinta Inn.
Last Saturday, police responded to calls of a DOA victim at the inn on New Country Drive. The victim, Christopher Trivette, had a gunshot wound, and EMS pronounced him dead. A half hour later, an investigator pulled up on scene and saw the victim lying on his side in a pool of blood, and saw several bullet holes on the body. Police said his phone and ID were missing.
Police said hotel staff told them the room had been registered in another man’s name (Paul Burgess), and that two other black males had arrived the previous day to check in. They were told people in a nearby room may have information about the incident, which was registered in the name of the girlfriend of the man now charged with the murder, 41-year-old Mario Peoples. Hotel staff showed police video of Peoples (who has a teardrop tattoo under one eye) with what appeared to be a large pistol protruding from his clothing.
Police interviewed the first witness a few hours later. The witness told police that the night before he was at the InTown Suites on Lee Highway when he was called down by an acquaintance to the parking lot where he was introduced to Peoples and a white male. He was told they were there to pick up money. They said they were going to the La Quinta in Hixson and would be returning. The witness said he never heard back from his acquaintance so he went to sleep.
He said the next morning, his acquaintance told him someone had been shot at the La Quinta Inn. The witness then told police he called a friend at the hotel and asked them to notify staff. That is when he said he drove to La Quinta Inn and made contact with police.
The next day, investigators spoke with the acquaintance. He said he called the first witness over to the white Ford Crown Victoria he was in, since the driver (Peoples) wanted to buy the first witness’s pistol. The first witness sold the pistol for $400, but the acquaintance said Peoples only paid a portion of the agreed upon amount.
After this, he said Peoples drove them to the La Quinta Inn and went to room 205, where they saw several people he did not know shooting heroin. The acquaintance said he saw Peoples shoot heroin into his arm with the victim. He said Peoples then became “irate” and accused Trivette of bugging his phone. The witness told of hearing Peoples say, “I’m going to kill someone” before he shot a round at the victim.
The acquaintance of the first witness then left the room and said he heard three more shots fired. He said he and the tall white man fled the Inn and sped away in Peoples' car. The witness told police before they left he heard Peoples say he forgot his phone and needed to get it back.
Police were told that the white male called Peoples’ sister and told her that her brother had shot someone.
When police interviewed the first witness again, he stated the second witness told him Peoples wanted to buy his pistol. The witness said Peoples was driving and that Peoples had a teardrop tattoo. The first witness said People only paid $200 of the agreed upon purchase. Out of a six-person photo lineup, the witness told police he was 80 percent sure Peoples was the man he sold the gun to.
Police later found and preserved Peoples’ Facebook account. In one video shared on Dec. 3, he could be seen getting into and driving a white Ford Crown Victoria, a vehicle matching the one at La Quinta Inn at the time of the incident. A few hours after this, the first witness called police and said the second witness saw a man named Mario shoot the victim. The second witness confirmed this, and identified Mario Peoples out of a photo lineup.
A few hours after this, a hotel staff member identified Peoples out of a photo lineup, and said he has been known to rent rooms under different names. He said Peoples has been banned multiple times because of ongoing drug and prostitution issues. The witness said Peoples had been in room 207 that night, which was right next to room 205 where the shooting occurred.
On Tuesday, police arrested Peoples. He is facing a criminal homicide charge.