D.C. police on Tuesday arrested a 20-year-old man on a charge of assault with intent to kill for the shooting one day earlier of a transgender woman in the 2300 block of Savannah Street, S.E.
Police said Darryl Willard of Northeast Washington surrendered on Tuesday at First District Police Headquarters and was charged in connection with an arrest warrant obtained by police, who said the victim knew Willard.
The victim, whom police have not identified, suffered a non-fatal gunshot wound to the neck about 2 a.m. Monday at the Savannah Street location and showed up at the Seventh District Police Headquarters to report the incident, police said. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition.
The incident was the fourth reported shooting of a transgender person in D.C. since July. The latest case prompted police officials to call a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss this and other transgender related cases.
Transgender activists Earline Budd and Ruby Corado, who spoke at the news conference, said the latest shooting was among more than a dozen violent attacks against transgender women in D.C. this year.
“The transgender community is now in crisis,” Corado said.
Monday’s shooting incident came two days after police found the body of an unidentified person initially thought to be a transgender woman on the sidewalk along the 2600 block of 11th Street, N.W., about 5:20 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10.
The latest incident also came after police arrested a suspect in a separate case on Sept. 10 in which the suspect, whom police have not identified, allegedly threatened three transgender women with a gun on the 4000 block of Minnesota Ave., S.E. None of the victims were injured. Police listed the incident as an anti-transgender hate crime.
Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told the news conference that preliminary findings of an autopsy show no signs of trauma or external injuries suffered by the person found dead on 11th Street, N.W. in the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. He said a final determination on whether the death was a homicide or due to natural causes must await the results of toxicology tests, which could take several weeks to complete.
Transgender activists, who viewed a photo of the deceased person released by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office, said they believe the person was a man, possibly a gay man, dressed in drag rather than someone seeking to permanently change his gender from male to female.
Police released the photo to the media and are appealing to the public for help in identifying the deceased person.
They said investigators initially thought a small discolored area on the person’s face, which is visible in the photo, was a bruise caused by a possible assault. But Newsham said investigators later determined that facial make-up was the cause of the discoloration.
The deceased person is described as a 20 to 35-year-old male of Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent, about five-feet-eight inches tall with black wavy hair about three inches long and brown eyes.
“The decedent was wearing a black and purple jacket, blue shorts and was carrying high heel shoes,” Newsham told the news conference on Monday.
Anyone with information about the person is asked to contact Third District Det. William Covington at 202-645-9600.
“We’re investigating the case as if it were a homicide, just as we do in all unexplained death cases,” said police homicide Capt. Michael Farish.
Farish said police found the person to be in possession of money and jewelry, leading investigators to rule out a robbery as the motive in the event the medical examiner rules the death a homicide.
He said the unidentified decedent was also wearing a wristband similar to those used by nightclubs, including gay clubs, to identify customers who are of legal drinking age or to allow paying customers to leave and re-enter a club.
Farish told reporters that detectives contacted several of the city’s gay clubs to determine whether the wrist band found on the person matched those used by the clubs. Just one club reportedly used the type of wristband the decedent was wearing, but the club couldn’t confirm whether that particular wrist band was used on the night before the decedent was found unconscious, Farish said. He didn’t identify the club.
D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the area where the unidentified person’s body was found, said his office is closely monitoring the case. Graham, who is gay, said he is troubled over the large number of crimes against transgender women in the city in recent months.
Newsham said at Monday’s news conference that police had identified a suspect in the shooting of the transgender woman shot early Monday morning on Savannah Street, S.E. He said police expected to make an arrest in the case soon.
Capt. Edward Delgado, director of the police Special Liaison Division, was the first to disclose the shooting in an early morning email to LGBT activists.
“This morning a member of the transgender community walked into the Seventh District Station to report that she sustained a gunshot wound to the neck,” said Delgado, whose division oversees the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit.
“The female was transported to a local hospital and is in stable condition. The Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit responded to the scene to aid the detectives in their investigation in hope to bring this case to closure,” he said.
The incident came less than two months after 23-year-old Lashai Mclean, a transgender woman, was shot to death shortly before 5 a.m. on July 20 on the 6100 block of Dix Street, N.E.
According to police, a transgender woman who was with Mclean at the time of the shooting told investigators two men approached Mclean and asked her a question. Before Mclean could answer them one of the two men fatally shot Mclean with a semiautomatic handgun, police said. The case remains unsolved.
Eleven days later, on July 31, an unidentified male suspect fired a handgun at a transgender woman along the 6200 block of Dix Street, N.E., just one block from where Mclean was shot. The shot missed hitting the victim, police said.
In a statement following the second shooting, police said they were looking into the possibility of a “potential emerging pattern” between the two incidents. No suspects have been identified in the case.
At Monday’s news conference, Farish said police chose not to release a composite drawing of the unknown suspect who shot Mclean because the witness was unable to provide enough details about the suspect’s appearance.
In a separate incident on Aug. 26, an off-duty D.C. police officer was arrested on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly firing his approved off-duty service revolver at three transgender women and two male friends who were sitting in a car in Northwest Washington.
Two of the transgender women and one of the male friends suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds in the incident. The victims told police the incident began when words were exchanged between one of the male friends and 21-year veteran D.C. police Officer Kenneth Furr after Furr allegedly propositioned one of the trans women for sex inside a CVS drugstore about 4:40 a.m. that morning.
Transgender activists who know the victims said one of the transgender women involved in the case said Furr became angry when she turned down his request that the two have a sexual encounter.
During Monday’s police news conference, Budd and Corado said they were pleased with the response to the latest cases by police officials but expressed concern that at least some rank and file officers continue to show a bias against members of the LGBT community, especially against transgender women.