A transgender woman, 23-year old Lashai McLean, was shot and killed early Wednesday morning in northeast Washington, D.C.. Police found her body around 4:30 AM and are investigating her murder as a possible hate crime, according to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. There will be a candlelight vigil held at the corner of 61st and Dix streets, NE on Saturday, July 23, at 7:00 PM. (Facebook event page.)
The Washington Times reports,
While police have not ruled that the homicide was a hate crime, MPD reported earlier this year that hate crimes relating to sexual orientation or gender identity are up. Crimes related to sexual orientation or gender identity jumped from 35 in 2009 to 45 in 2010, according to the MPD´s 2010 annual report on bias-related crimes.
“Every homicide in the District of Columbia is a tragedy for which the perpetrators must be brought to swift justice,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “However, if the investigation concludes that this shooting was the result of bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity, [the Metropolitan Police Department] and my administration will see that there is an appropriate response to this kind of violence, which cannot be tolerated.”
No arrests have been made in Miss Mclean’s slaying but police say they are looking for two male suspects.
According to an MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] press release, members of the Sixth District station responded to a reported shooting at 4:26 a.m.
“Upon arrival on the scene, they found a victim suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel transported the victim to a local hospital where the victim was pronounced dead.”
The Advocate adds,
“A lot of our clients hang out there,” Brian Watson, programs director for Transgender Health Empowerment, told reporters. Mclean, who also went by “Shay,” was reportedly a regular client of Watson’s group, a D.C. nonprofit organization that provides housing, counseling, and medical testing for LGBT youth.
Via NBC Washington:
“It just hurts my heart,” said McLean’s boyfriend, Jason Coleman. “It hurts me terrible. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.”
Coleman had planned to marry McLean.
“She was lovely, too,” Coleman said. “I wanted to be with her the rest of my life.”
Via My Fox DC:
“That was my cousin,” said Lay Lai Hancock. “I loved her to death. I’m sorry they’ve taken her away, but she’s in a better place.”
The news of Mclean’s death spread fast through the transgender community. Many of them gathered at the Transgender Health Empowerment office on North Capitol Street where they supported one another.
“Shai, she was the caring type,” said friend Domo Hardy. “She cared about a lot of people and she showed that.”
“I’m in shock. I just don’t understand how something like this can happen to her, and as a person, because she is a very nice person,” Michele Spikes added.
Earline Budd, who runs the agency, said transgender women are always at risk.
“It’s been time and time again we’ve been getting calls here at Transgender Health Empowerment about stabbings. They’ve been shot and they’ve been beat up and I can just say that I can’t say Shai was involved in any illegal activities in terms of being there, but I can tell you clearly that area has a lot of violence and we work very closely to educate young ladies,” said Budd.
(photo via Facebook)
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