July 31, 2014 at 12:32 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Transgender teenager stabbed on Metro train
Reginald Klaiber, gay news, Washington Blade, transgender teenager

Reginald Anthony Klaiber, 24, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the July 30 stabbing attack of a 15-year-old transgender woman on board a Metro subway car. (Photo courtesy of the Metro Transit Police)

A 15-year-old transgender girl was stabbed in the back by a male attacker on board a Green Line Metrorail train about 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday shortly before the train arrived at the Fort Totten Station in Northeast D.C., according to a statement released by Metro.

The statement says the victim, a D.C. resident, was being treated at a hospital for a non-life threatening puncture wound.

Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel told the Washington Blade that Metro Police arrested a suspect in the case on the Fort Totten Station platform as he attempted to flee the scene.

The Metro statement identifies the suspect as Reginald Anthony Klaiber, 24, of Greenbelt, Md. It says police charged him with assault with a deadly weapon – a knife. The statement says the charge is classified as a bias related crime, which could result in an enhanced jail sentence under the D.C. hate crimes law.

“Witnesses told Transit Police detectives the suspect made bias-motivated remarks about the victim’s transgender status immediately prior to the assault,” the Metro statement says.

Jae-la White, 19, one of two friends accompanying the victim on the train at the time of the stabbing, told the Blade in a telephone interview that the attacker approached the victim and began making disparaging remarks about her appearance shortly after he boarded the train at the West Hyattsville Station.

“He came to my friend and said you have red hair,” White said. “My friend said ok, and then he said, ‘Oh, you’re a man!’”

“Then he started bothering my friend,” said White. “My friend got up out of her seat to go by the door while the train was moving and told him to please leave her alone. He faced her and said I will stab you up and blow your brains out.”

In a harrowing account of what followed, White said the attacker next “started to hug” the victim in a sexually suggestive way. Seconds later, White said, the victim began to scream and White and their other friend, a 17-year-old man, realized that the attacker was stabbing their friend.

According to White, the 17-year-old friend pulled out a canister of mace and squirted the attacker in the face, enabling the victim to break free.

“He started holding his face. We all started running for our life, running through the car doors to the last car,” said White. “The man was following behind us but he fell back in the second to the last car and he was just watching us.”

In the midst of the commotion and in a panic, White said she frantically pushed the emergency call button in one of the train cars and screamed for help.

Stessel said transit police were alerted by the train operator, resulting in a 4:38 p.m. call for police to come to the Fort Totten station.

As White tells it, the unfolding ordeal for the three friends didn’t end when the train stopped at the station.

“He then started chasing us with the knife upstairs and through the station,” White told the Blade, adding that to her horror, there were no transit police to be found. After the police finally arrived, in what she said seemed like an eternity, it took four officers to subdue and handcuff the suspect.

Stessel said police records show that the first officer arrived on the scene at 4:41 p.m., noting that a Transit Police substation is located next to Fort Totten Station.

“I will say that the witnesses in this case did everything right,” Stessel said. “They pressed the emergency intercom to notify the train operator, they provided a good description of the suspect, and they remained on scene to talk to detectives.”

Klaiber was expected to appear before a D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday, where a decision would be made on whether he should be held or released on bond while awaiting trial.

Channel 4 reported that Klaiber has a lengthy criminal record in Maryland. The D.C. Superior Court’s online records show Klaiber pleaded guilty to July 2013 felony robbery charge and pleaded guilty to a July 2013 misdemeanor charge of threats to do bodily harm.

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

  • brians ions

    Thanks for the prompt reporting of this hate crime, Blade. It seems to me the multiple pursuits against all the victims in this incident could be charged as additional hate crime counts as well.
     
    Meanwhile, in a pathetic (and perhaps, transphobic) display of journalistic judgment, the Washington Post last evening chose to cover these apparent hate crimes as a local commuter transportation/ ‘Dr. Gridlock’ news story.
     
    WaPo even went out of their way to downplay the significance of this crime in their story’s headline. Apparently, the fact that the trans girl’s wound was “minor” was more important to WaPo than that she was stabbed in the back and pursued repeatedly.
     
    Here’s WaPo’s headline (As of last evening, anyway. Screenshot jpg available.)…
    ****
    Dr. Gridlock
    In possible hate crime, teen suffers minor stab wound on Metro train
    ****

  • iden campbell

    He was caught immediately and will have to pay for his crimes against a child and should be charged with as many charges as possible. I pray for the young lady and her friends, having to experience such a traumatic event. I hope they are able to receive therapy to discuss what happened so that the pain will be lessened in time. They were very brave yesterday.

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