Police: crimes involving gay, transgender victims not related

Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham speaks outside police headquarters about a series of crimes this week involving members of the LGBT community. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Three reported crimes in two days involving members of the gay and transgender community in D.C. do not appear to be related, according to police.

“It doesn’t appear to be a group of folks that’s targeting, or a specific group that’s targeting this community,” says Assistant D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham.

A gay man was shot at an IHOP restaurant on 14th Street Northwest early Sunday after police say a group of people made derogatory comments toward him and it led to a fight.

“The investigation into that case is progressing very well at this time,” Newsham says. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to bring that matter to closure.”

Not far from Sunday’s crime scene, another gay man was beaten and robbed the following evening in the area of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street in Columbia Heights.

Police believe gender bias may have been a factor in both crimes.

Late Monday night, police were called to the area of Mount Olivet Road and West Virginia Avenue in Northeast where a transgender woman was beaten to unconsciousness.

The woman told police she was targeted because she is transgendered, but chief Newsham says police don’t have any evidence of that at this point.

Newsham says they have video evidence in two of these cases, but they’re not releasing it to the public because investigators have identified most of the people they think were involved.

There have been nine reported hate crimes in the District from the start of this year through February. Four of them had to do with sexual orientation, three involved race and two had to do with ethnicity or national origin. Last year, there was a total of 91 reported hate crimes in the city.

Newsham says offensive comments can be hard to ignore, but that’s exactly what he’s encouraging people to do. “I always tell young people in particular that the strongest person is the one who’s able to walk away and to avoid the conflict. The conflicts never end good. Somebody always gets injured.”

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