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D.C. police investigating death, attacks on transgender people

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Crime,Scott McCabe
The shooting of a transgender woman Monday morning and the suspicious death of another male-to-female transgender person this weekend has generated fear among an often vulnerable community -- and calls for added vigilance by city police.

Those two cases marked at least the fourth attack on transgender people in D.C. since late July, resulting in one homicide, one suspicious death, and three other persons wounded by gunfire.

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said there is no evidence that the victims were attacked because of their sexual orientation, but he said police continue to be concerned about the violence.

"Unfortunately members of the transgender community are victims of crimes on an all-too-frequent basis," Newsham said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said no one knows whether such attacks are on the rise because the data collection has been deficient.

"But if you're a trans person in D.C. it sure seems like there's a lot more," Keisling said.

In July, a transgender woman was shot and killed in Northeast Washington, and 11 days later, there was another shooting at a transgender person in the same neighborhood.

Last month, an intoxicated off-duty police officer allegedly shot at a group of transgender people, injuring three people.

Members of the transgender community have voiced their concerns that police were not doing enough to protect them and were not taking the crimes committed against them seriously.

Vanessa Crowley, of member of the D.C. Trans Coalition, said the District has the nation's highest rates of violence against transgender men and women, despite having some of the strictest laws on the books.

"Many officers have no regard for these people," she said, pointing out that the officer who hopped on a car and fired at a group of transgender people had previous alcohol-related run-ins. "This is not a case of one bad apple, but an entire system that is at issue."

Newsham said the department takes crimes against transgenders seriously. The officer arrested in the August shooting, Kenneth Furr, remains in jail charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

On Monday, police were trying to identify the person found at 11th Street and Fairmont Avenue NW at about 5:45 a.m. Saturday.

According to law enforcement sources, the man was dressed in women's clothing, and was wearing makeup and high heels. He was bleeding from the inner ear. The victim was taken to a hospital where he died 30 minutes later.

Police have not determined whether the death was a homicide.

The deceased was described as being Hispanic or Middle Eastern and between 20 and 35 years old.

Around 1:50 a.m. Monday, a transgender female was shot in the neck in 2600 block of Savannah Avenue SE. The victim walked into the 7th District police station about a half-mile away and was taken to a D.C. hospital, treated and released.

Sources said the woman knew the shooter from a prior relationship. The two got into an argument and the man, in his early 20s, shot the woman. Police said they know the identity of the suspect and expect to make an arrest soon.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.comwas

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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