Police in the nation's capital are investigating the overnight shooting of a transgender person and the weekend death of an unidentified man wearing makeup and carrying high heels, authorities said Monday.
The shooting victim was expected to survive and police have identified a suspect in that case and expect to make an arrest, authorities said. Police are investigating the death of the man in makeup as a homicide but say they aren't immediately certain that a crime occurred as no visible sign of trauma was found.
The shooting in the city's Southeast section is the latest in a series of attacks in recent months that have victimized transgender people in the District of Columbia and raised concerns through the community of transgender, gay and lesbian people. Police, however, say they have no indication that the crimes are related.
Officials sought at a news conference Monday to dispel assertions that officers aren't being responsive to the concerns of gays, lesbians and transgender people or that detectives aren't aggressively working to solve crimes against them.
"As an agency, we would not tolerate that from our members," Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said.
He said transgender people were "victims of crime on an all-too frequent basis" in the city and that police have met recently with members of the community.
The first shooting occurred July 20 when 23-year-old transgender woman Myles Mclean, also known to friends as Lashai, was killed while walking in the city's Northeast early one morning. Less than two weeks later _ and in the same neighborhood _ a suspect pulled a gun out and fired without hitting a person after asking for change. Last month, police say, an off-duty D.C. police officer on medical leave got into a fight with several transgender people and fired shots into a car. The officer, Kenneth Furr, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
The man who died early Saturday is believed to have been between 20 and 35 years old. He was found unconscious and later pronounced dead. Police said the man, who appeared to be of Hispanic or possibly Middle Eastern descent, had makeup on his face and was carrying light-colored heels. Police said they didn't know the man's name and didn't have suspects in the death. It wasn't immediately clear if he was either gay or transgender, or whether there was any evidence of a bias-crime.
Captain Michael Farish of the police homicide division said the unusual circumstances surrounding the death required investigation. But he declined to elaborate on preliminary conversations between detectives and the medical examiner's office regarding the cause of death. The medical examiner's office is awaiting toxicology reports.
"This isn't a 90-year-old lady who died in her bed after suffering from cancer," he said.
Crimes against transgender people attracted national attention last spring when two women were recorded attacking a transgender woman inside a McDonald's restaurant in Rosedale, Md, a Baltimore suburb. The video went viral after being posted online. One defendant is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to first-degree assault and a hate crime. Prosecutors have said they plan to ask for a prison term of five years for the defendant, Teonna Brown.