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Police identify trans woman fatally stabbed at D.C. bus stop

Homicide branch releases video of suspect

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Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

In an effort to speed the investigation, several trans activists in DC shared this photo of Deoni Jones yesterday before police made a positive identification using fingerprints. (Screenshot via Facebook)

D.C. police late Friday identified a transgender woman found suffering from a fatal stab wound at a bus stop in Northeast Washington Thursday night as 23-year-old Deoni Jones, whose birth name was identified as JaParker Jones.

Homicide Branch Lt. Robert Adler, who is leading the investigation into Jones’ death, said police have also released a video of a man considered a suspect in the murder. He said the video can be viewed on YouTube.

“We’re hoping someone from the public will recognize the person in the video and tell us who it is,” Adler told the Blade in an interview at the Homicide Branch headquarters in Southwest D.C.

Adler said Jones’ family members told investigators that Jones also had been known by the first name Logan.

Police issued a statement early Friday afternoon saying a citizen flagged down a Metro transit police officer about 8:15 p.m. Thursday to report an assault at a bus stop on the 4900 block of East Capitol Street, N.E.

“Upon arrival, the officer located a transgender female who was unconscious and unresponsive suffering from a stab wound,” the statement says. “Units from the Sixth District and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital and was admitted in critical condition,” the statement says.

“On Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at 2:35 a.m., the victim was pronounced dead. The decedent has not been identified at this time,” the initial statement said.

The video released by police later in the day shows a man walking across a street wearing a dark jacket and light colored pants. His face is not clearly visible in the video.

Adler said investigators have obtained a description of the suspect from “a variety of different sources.”

“The person we are looking for at this time is a black male, 30 to 40 years old, five-feet-nine to six-feet tall, medium build, medium complexion with a beard,” Adler said. “At the time of the incident the person was wearing a black jacket with a grey hooded sweatshirt underneath it and a pair of what we believe is jeans.”

Asked whether evidence exists to indicate the killing was a hate crime, Adler said “At this time we are still investigating if it is or is not a hate crime. And as the investigation proceeds we should probably get a better idea of whether that was a factor in the assault.”

The D.C. Trans Coalition issued a statement Friday saying it had learned through its own sources that a third person was at the bus stop when the stabbing took place and chased after the attacker. The statement says the attacker escaped when the witness realized that Jones was in need of immediate medical attention.

The statement says the group learned that Jones had been stabbed in the cheek and was taken by ambulance to Prince George’s County Hospital.

Earline Budd, an official with the transgender services and advocacy group Transgender Health Empowerment, said Friday morning that investigators planned to bring one or more photos of the victim to the THC office with the hope that someone there could identify the victim.

But Adler said homicide investigators identified Jones through fingerprints. He declined to say whether Jones’ finger prints had been on file in police and court records from a prior arrest.

D.C. Superior Court records show that a defendant on record as JaParker Jones had been arrested three times in D.C. between 2008 and 2011. The records show Jones had been charged in 2008 and 2011 with misdemeanor simple assault. In the 2008 case, prosecutors dropped the charge. In the 2011 case, a judge dismissed the case after determining prosecutors failed to prepare for the case at the time of trial.

In the third case, filed in 2010, court records show that Jones had been charged with second-degree theft and possession of a controlled substance, both misdemeanors. The records show Jones pleaded guilty to the second-degree theft change and the government dropped the possession of controlled substance charge as part of a plea bargain.

A judge sentenced Jones to a 150-day suspended jail term and ordered her to enroll in a drug treatment program and to undergo drug testing as well as counseling during a one-year period of probation, court records show.

Captain Edward Delgado, director of the department’s Special Liaison Unit, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, told LGBT activists in an email Thursday night that the stabbing occurred after some type of altercation took place between Jones and the suspect.

“Apparently there was a fight with the knife involved,” Delgado said in his email. “An adult female (transgendered) was stabbed at least once to the head by a black male wearing heavy dark coat with grey striped hat.”

A separate statement released by the Metropolitan Police Department’s public information office says police offer a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any homicide committed in D.C.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-272-9099. Anonymous information can be submitted to the department’s “TEXT TIP LINE” by text messaging 50411, the police statement says.

Two transgender women were murdered in the city in separate incidents in 2011. Both cases remain unsolved.

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Maryland

Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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District of Columbia

Point Foundation offers growing range of scholarships, support

‘Resources to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through’

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Celina Gerbic, a member of the Point Foundation’s board of directors, speaks at last year’s event. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Many in D.C. know the Point Foundation for its longstanding scholarship program and its popular Taste of Point fundraiser each spring. But the nonprofit is offering a growing range of services to its young scholars, including mental health resources and social media support.

This year’s Taste of Point brought mixologists, restaurateurs, and donors together on May 3 at Room and Board for the annual celebration. With a number of local businesses and organizations donating to the silent auction, the event both raised money for Point Foundation’s scholarships while recognizing scholarship recipients and program alumni.

Among the lineup of featured speakers was one of the foundation’s flagship scholarship recipients, Rio Dennis, a dual master’s and law candidate at Georgetown University.

“I applied for the Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship because I believed in its mission of helping LGBTQ+ students achieve their academic goals while also providing training and resources so we can become better leaders within the LGBTQ community during school and long term,” Dennis said in her speech. 

The Taste of Point celebration began in 2013, born from another event called the Cornerstone Reception. Originally planned as a normal fundraiser with hor d’oeuvres, the foundation transformed it into the current Taste of Point celebration that facilitates partnerships with new, local restaurants.

Some restaurants, like Compass Rose and Hank’s Oyster Bar, partnered with Point Foundation for their first celebration. They have been catering at the fundraiser ever since.

“It really gives you the sense of the amount of love and the amount of community that we have around the Point Foundation and mission,” said Celina Gerbic, a member on the foundation’s board of directors. “They really see, with hearing from the scholars, what the effects can be if we’re raising money for those scholarships and mentoring opportunities.”

The event also allows the foundation to showcase new offerings, such as the Community College Scholarship that was rolled out just before the pandemic in collaboration with Wells Fargo. The community college program gives scholars a financial scholarship each year of their community college experience as well as coaching and admissions counseling for students planning to transfer to a university. 

Meanwhile, the foundation is also expanding its new BIPOC scholarship, which announced its next round of recipients on May 22. The scholarship is currently supporting between 500 and 555 scholars across the country.

Omari Foote, one of the current BIPOC scholarship recipients, appreciates how the scholarship recognizes her as a Black queer student. She is even encouraging other queer students and friends to apply to receive similar assistance.

However, Point is even more than that, Dennis notes. 

Before the school year started, the Point Foundation sent Dennis and all of the new flagship scholars to Los Angeles for a leadership development conference. Scholars discussed how to become active leaders on campus, how to ask for certain resources, what is offered by their campuses, and what tutoring programs are available.

This year, Point also did a joint partnership with an online therapy program to offer discounted prices for all scholars. 

“I have anxiety and depression and I struggled a lot in undergrad with trying to balance that with my having to support myself financially,” Dennis said. “So I was definitely grateful that Georgetown did have a program that is specifically for people of color to get free therapy and Point definitely helped with… asking those questions because it is one of those programs that isn’t as well publicized.”

Point even provided Dennis with a mentor who was also a Point Scholar in law school. Meeting monthly on Zoom and texting all throughout the month, Dennis’s mentor provides academic support that helps her use the right resources and make decisions about her career.

Foote finds the scholarship unique in other ways as well. As a recipient of a handful of other scholarships outside of Point, Foote’s interactions with her scholarship programs mostly stop after they send instructions for writing donor thank you notes. But Point keeps reaching out to maintain a relationship with scholars long after that.

“They’ve reached out to me to spotlight me on Instagram,” Foote said. “They reached out to me even for this dinner, paying for my transportation to and from the dinner … It’s like they’re not just there to give you the money. They’re there to really help you navigate the college world and to be that caring supportive system that a lot of us just don’t have anymore now that we are living by ourselves.”

Last November, the foundation also held an Out in Higher Ed Week, wherein they teach scholars how to be LGBTQ+ advocates on campus. These resources help students navigate the ins and outs of discussing LGBTQ+ issues in university settings.

After graduation, Dennis has even thought about returning to the Point Foundation as a mentor to help future Black queer students, especially first generation law students, balance their mental health and financial situations.

“Point has connected me with fellow scholars who have become my friends. Point has provided me with resources and support to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through,” Dennis said. “I definitely plan on continuing to be involved with Point.”

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