January 7, 2010 at 9:14 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Council candidate provides tip in D.C. gay murder

A gay man who was shot to death in his car in Southeast Washington last week may have been the target of a thug who’s “terrorizing” the Congress Heights neighborhood where he was killed, according to a local minister who is running for a seat on the D.C. City Council.

Rev. Anthony Motley said a mutual friend told him that the murder of Anthony J. Perkins, 29, may be linked to an unidentified man believed to be responsible for a string of robberies that Perkins learned about. Motley said the robbery suspect may have thought Perkins was about to report him to police.

Perkins was found dead in his car at Fourth and Oakwood streets, S.E., at 5:15 a.m. on Dec. 27.

“According to my sources, Anthony received a call that morning and left his house to go meet someone,” Motley told DC Agenda in an E-mail. “It is said that the individual Anthony knew who was robbing people had become paranoid that Anthony would talk. It’s assumed that is why he was shot.”

Homicide Detective John Bolden, one of the investigators working on the case, said police have no motive for the killing and had no suspects as of earlier this week.

Bolden said investigators were looking forward to talking with the mutual friend that Motley mentioned in his e-mail to the Agenda, with the hope that this individual could provide an important lead in the case.

Homicide squad Lt. Paul Wingate said police have no evidence so far to indicate the murder was a hate crime.

Police and Christopher Dyer, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, have been distributing fliers that include a photo of Perkins to local LGBT organizations and activists, asking for help in identifying the person or people responsible for Perkins’ death.

Police are asking anyone with information about the case to call the homicide squad office at 202-645-9600 or the 24-hour police hotline at 202-727-9099. Similar to all D.C. homicides, police are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect linked to Perkins’ murder.

In a statement released the day of the murder, police said they found Perkins, whom they described as a “shooting victim,” seated inside his car on the 2900 block of Fourth St., S.E. The statement says the car had steam billowing from its engine when officers responded to reports of the sound of gunfire. A nearby resident identified the vehicle as a Lincoln Towncar.

“D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department personnel responded to the scene, but could find no life signs,” says the statement.

Perkins lived with his mother on the 1800 block of T Street, S.E., about two to three miles from the location where he was killed.

“I have known Anthony for more than a decade,” Motley said in his e-mail to the Agenda. “Anthony would attend my ministry on a regular basis.”

He called Perkins “a very good singer” who sometimes sang during church services.

“Anthony was a very generous and kind person,” Motley said. “He loved people and was always concerned about his mother and her well being.”

Motley said that it was through a mutual friend, who he did not identify, that he learned Perkins “was made aware of some information regarding an individual who was terrorizing the neighborhood and robbing people, especially at ATMs.”

The unidentified man said to have committed the robberies “lived very close to where Anthony was shot,” Motley said the mutual friend told him.

Motley, a long-time Democrat, announced last spring that he would become an independent candidate in the November 2010 general election for one of two at-large Council seats currently held by Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and David Catania (I-At Large). Catania is one of two openly gay members of the Council.

Veteran D.C. gay and Ward 8 civic activist Phil Pannell, who was recently elected president of the Congress Heights Civic Association, said Motley has been supportive of LGBT rights.

Pannell said he did not know Perkins, but recognized him from the police photo as someone who may have patronized one or more of the city’s gay bars.

Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes told the Agenda that the police’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit was assisting the homicide squad in the investigation into Perkins’ murder.

Groomes disputed an earlier statement by Chris Farris, co-chair of the local group Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence, that the GLLU had not immediately been contacted about the case, as had been the department’s practice in the past.

Farris and other LGBT activists have expressed concern that the department’s recent reorganization of the GLLU had resulted in its de-facto “dismantling.” They were referring to a plan by Police Chief Cathy Lanier to decentralize the unit by staffing it with a greater number of officers in each of the seven police districts.

According to Farris and other activists, the central GLLU headquarters in Dupont Circle had been reduced from seven full-time officers to just one or two officers a year or two before the department was ready to put in place GLLU affiliated officers in the seven police the districts.

“GLLU actually was notified on the night of the murder and has been assisting Homicide with said case,” Groomes told the Agenda in an e-mail. “At this time there are two full duty members, two members not full duty [at GLLU headquarters] and 25 affiliate members to assist in any matter that one may need assistance with. … [A]ll are available via the [GLLU] pager number.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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