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Police say help from citizens led to arrest in trans murder

Man charged in case captured on video stabbing victim in face

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At least five citizens came forward with information that enabled D.C. police to arrest a 55-year-old man charged last week in the murder of transgender woman Deoni Jones at a city bus stop on Feb. 2, according to a police arrest affidavit.

Police on Feb. 10 charged Gary Niles Montgomery of Northeast D.C. with second-degree murder while armed in connection with the fatal stabbing of Jones, 23, at a Metro bus stop at East Capitol and Sycamore streets, N.E.

A D.C. Superior Court judge ordered Montgomery held without bail at a court presentment hearing on Saturday, Feb. 11. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 23, where prosecutors are expected outline their case against him.

“Unlike what we have seen in the past, in this case, at the time when this homicide took place, passersby unrelated to the situation intervened – two passersby – and attempted to assist a person that they believed was being assaulted,” said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier at the news conference she called to announce the arrest in the case.

“They stopped, they did what they could to help, and they notified police and they waited for police to come to the scene,” Lanier said. “And then we had people in the community who came forward and provided us the information that we need. And I want to thank all those who have helped us bring this case to closure.”

Lanier said police had yet to determine the motive for the murder and they had not ruled out classifying the case as a hate crime.

The police arrest affidavit reveals that a video released to the news media by police the day after the murder, which showed a man walking across a street that police identified as a “person of interest” in the case, also captured the murder itself.

In a chilling narrative, the affidavit says the video shows the suspect, later identified as Montgomery, and Jones sitting on a bench at the bus stop. It says one witness who also sat briefly on the same bench with Jones and Montgomery, before walking away, noticed that Montgomery was starring at Jones.

“Additionally, witness #3 reported that the [then] unknown black male [suspect] had ‘big eyes’ as if he was under the influence,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit says the video shows that at one point Jones got up and walked away from the bus stop and out of range of the video. It says the video shows Montgomery getting up and following Jones before Jones and then Montgomery returned to the bus stop and sat down on opposite ends of the bench.

“Approximately eight minutes following their return, the suspect is observed standing up facing the decedent, who remained sitting,” the affidavit says. “The suspect is then observed striking the decedent one time in the head, causing the decedent to collapse to the ground. The suspect is observed bending over and picking up what is believed to be the decedent’s purse,” the affidavit says.

“Upon doing this, witness #2 is observed confronting the suspect,” it says. “The suspect is observed dropping the decedent’s purse and running from the bus stop. Witness #2 is observed pursuing and apprehending the suspect. However, witness #2 became distracted for a moment, at which time the suspect escaped,” says the affidavit.

The affidavit says witness #2 was one of two motorists that observed Montgomery strike Jones as their car was stopped at a red light at a location close to the bus stop. It says both witnesses ran out of the car to help Jones, with one chasing after the suspect later identified as Montgomery.

The affidavit says detectives with the Homicide Branch learned after interviewing both witnesses that the witness who apprehended Montgomery became distracted after the other witness yelled that Jones was gravely injured and needed immediate medical attention.

An autopsy showed that Jones suffered a fatal stab wound to the right side of her face that penetrated her skull, the affidavit says. It says that when emergency medical technicians arrived at the scene of the crime they found a knife lodged in her head.

The police affidavit says at least three citizens who live in the area where the murder took place called police to say they recognized a “person of interest” shown in part of a video taken at the scene of the stabbing and released by police to the media.

Police haven’t identified the source of the video, but some observers believe it may have been from a police surveillance camera because the view shown is from an elevated position looking down at the street.

“[M]embers of the Metropolitan Police Department were contacted by Witness #4 who reported that while watching local news coverage of the crime, it viewed the surveillance footage and recognized the ‘person of interest’ to be an individual it has seen on a daily or weekly basis for the past ten years,” the affidavit says.

“Specifically, Witness #4 reported that the ‘person of interest’ is an individual who panhandles two blocks west of the crime scene near the intersection of East Capitol Street and Benning Road, N.E.,” the affidavit says. “Witness #4 reported that it recognized Gary Montgomery in the video based on physical description, clothing, and prominent limp.”

The affidavit says Witness #4 played a key role in Montgomery’s arrest when the witness observed Montgomery near the intersection of East Capitol Street and Benning Road shortly after the witness contacted police to say he recognized the “person of interest” from the video.

“Witness #4 immediately contacted law enforcement who responded to the scene and stopped Gary Montgomery,” the affidavit says. It says the witness identified Montgomery as the person of interest at the time police stopped him.

According to police, investigators learned later that Montgomery had been living in the basement of a vacant residence 208 44th Street, N.E., “on a daily basis for the past six months.”

D.C. Superior Court records show that Montgomery has been arrested seven times between 2004 and 2008 on misdemeanor, fugitive, and traffic related charges.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said investigators do not consider Montgomery a suspect in the August 2009 daytime stabbing murder of transgender woman NaNa Boo Mack on a street in the city’s Shaw neighborhood, which remains unsolved.

Transgender activists praised what they called a thorough police investigation that led to Montgomery’s arrest and Lanier’s decision to shed a spotlight on the case by holding a news conference to announce the arrest.

“I am very pleased at the chief making this announcement herself,” said Earline Budd, an official with the D.C. transgender services and advocacy group Transgender Health Empowerment.

Budd said she also wants to thank the witness who intervened to help Jones and attempted to apprehend the suspect at the crime scene as well as “all of those who called in tips that led to this arrest.”

But Budd and other transgender activists noted that most of more than a half dozen transgender murders that have occurred in the city over the past several years remain unsolved.

“I don’t believe that we are yet where we should and want to be,” Budd said in an email to the Washington Blade.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. brian

    February 15, 2012 at 6:53 am

    One case does not effective policy/ procedural change make. And, as noted, there are a number of transgender homicide cases yet to be closed. But one can hardly overstate the sheer effectiveness and likely deterrence power when prompt communications and cooperation between police and the communities they serve is implemented.

    That does not happen by accident. The handling of this case is a good, cooperative model for both MPD and community residents to keep in mind.

    Thanks to MPD’s Homicide Branch, MPD’s Communications office and SLD/GLLU for getting information about this horrific, bold crime promptly and widely disseminated throughout the city.

  2. Anon

    February 15, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Na Na Boo Mack’s stabbing should have been solved by now. I’ve heard from close friends of Na Na Boo that both victims knew their attacker. In fact, the words that sparked the actual stabbings were statements by Na Na Boo about the attackers preference for ‘taking it up the —“. I’ve passed this information along to the press and the M.P.D. and never got a response. It’s no wonder Lanier never gets cases closed. If an observer gives her key information and no one responds, of course the case will remain unsolved!

  3. brian

    February 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Let’s give credit where credit is due. At this point, due credit has to be given to Chief Lanier and her renewed efforts, since last year, focusing on the crime and homicides perpetrated against transgender residents.

    Too many comments I’ve seen of late amount to non-specific, exaggerated or personal attacks on Chief Lanier and others at MPD. Murder will never be routine. But these kind of comments are a distraction to achieving, as a matter of good habit, the kind of police/ community cooperation we saw play out in this case.

    Many of us criticize Chief Lanier to one degree or another– hopefully over MPD *policy* issues. My criticism of Chief Lanier’s policy performance is at the margins. But the truth is, this city is fortunate to have a chief who appreciates our political process and the value of robust police issue discussions among MPD and LGBT residents.

    Police chiefs have to wear lots of hats. Like a good field commander, this chief proved long ago she is highly adaptable to our city’s ever-changing crime ‘battlefield’.

    Moreover, there is probably, now, better departmental consciousness and understanding of the underlying transphobia and/or homophobia most often linked– provably or not– with crimes against LGBT residents. And it is clear an extra intensity of violence seems to be reserved for DC’s transgender residents and lesbians. Hopefully, even rookie MPD responders now ‘get’ that, whether a GLLU officer is with them or not.

    Respect for and the stature of specialized law enforcement units matter to the credibility and effectiveness of their unique policing missions– both to the public and to a department’s rank and file officers. MPD’s revitalized Special Liaison Division and GLLU units continue to increase their visibility, public contacts and educational efforts– both to LGBTs and wider audiences all across the city.

    While many of us will continue to push for restoring a robust central GLLU office at Dupont– Asst. Chief Groomes, SLD’s Captain Delgado and GLLU’s Sgt. Mejia deserve credit for GLLU’s renewed visibility and GLLU’s ongoing policing efforts.

    Finally, our city’s diligent LGBT press corps and our city’s transgender leaders and activists all deserve LGBT residents’ ongoing gratitude for keeping everyone informed and focused on a problem that has produced so much loss, grief and fear.

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D.C. ends funding for Casa Ruby LGBTQ homeless shelter

Group scrambles to raise private donations to prevent Oct. 1 shutdown

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Ruby Corado, gay news, Washington Blade
Ruby Corado is hoping to raise private donations to keep the shelter open. (Blade file photo)

The D.C. Department of Human Services on Sept. 24 informed the LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby that it will not renew its annual $850,000 grant that, among other things, funds Casa Ruby’s emergency “low-barrier” shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth and adults.

Casa Ruby founder and CEO Ruby Corado said DHS informed her of its decision to discontinue the grant less than a week before the end of the current fiscal year when the funding is set to expire, which could result in the shutdown of the shelter on Oct. 1. 

Corado has since launched a GoFundMe appeal seeking help from the community so that the 50-bed shelter and 24-hour drop-in space located at the Casa Ruby headquarters at 7530 Georgia Ave., N.W. might continue to serve LGBTQ people in need of emergency housing. 

“After 9 years of serving thousands of homeless LGBTQ youth & adults, we are forced to close the doors to our most important program @Casa Ruby (Our Low Barrier Housing) on October 1st, 2021,” Corado states in her GoFundMe appeal. 

“This is also a terrible loss of 30 jobs that will impact the lives of Trans & Gender Non-Binary & other employees who now may face homelessness themselves – A HORRIBLE TRAGEDY,” the GoFundMe appeal states. 

Corado told the Washington Blade on Monday that she and the Casa Ruby staff were hopeful but uncertain whether emergency contributions from members of the community might be able to prevent a complete shutdown of the shelter. 

“We appreciate the work that Casa Ruby has done to serve homeless youth in the District of Columbia,” said DHS Interim Deputy Administrator Sheila Strain Clark in a Sept. 24 letter informing Corado of the decision to discontinue the funding. 

“Under Article VI. A. of Grant Agreement #DHS-FSA-HYRA-006-18 LGBTQ Homeless Youth Low-Barrier Beds (Grant Agreement), DHS at its discretion, and subject to the availability of funding, may extend the Grant Agreement for additional terms,” Strain Clark says in her letter. “At this time, DHS has decided not to extend the Grant Agreement for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022,” she wrote.

Strain Clark didn’t provide a specific reason for the DHS decision to discontinue the funds in her letter to Corado. In response to a request from the Blade for the reason why the grant was terminated, a DHS spokesperson sent the Blade a statement from DHS Director Laura Zeilinger commenting on the DHS decision, but that also did not provide a specific reason for the funding cutoff. 

“DHS is committed to the safety and well-being of youth, including LGBTQ+ youth, who we know disproportionately experience homelessness,” Zeilinger says in the statement. “We are not decreasing funding for LGBTQ+ youth services which will continue to be offered through the Continuum of Care,” the statement says.

“Covenant House Washington and True Colors will now provide LGBTQ+ specific services for youth in the Deanwood community of Ward 7. These are new services in this community,” the statement continues.

“Grant renewal decisions are based on ensuring accountability and continuity of quality services and the safety of our residents,” the statement says. “We value the community organizations who deliver these services and honor the contribution of Casa Ruby.”

The decision by DHS to discontinue the Casa Ruby homeless shelter grant came just under six months after Casa Ruby filed an administrative complaint against DHS, charging the D.C. government agency with ignoring and failing to stop one of its high-level officials from allegedly engaging in anti-transgender discrimination and retaliation against Casa Ruby.

The six-page complaint, which was prepared by Casa Ruby’s attorneys and signed by Corado, says the DHS official in question, whose name is redacted from the publicly released copy of the complaint, had acted in an abusive and discriminatory way toward Corado and other Casa Ruby employees. It says the targeted employees were overseeing three DHS grants awarded to Casa Ruby that funded shelters providing emergency housing for homeless LGBTQ people.

DHS has declined to comment on the complaint, saying it was investigating its allegation.

Corado told the Blade at the time Casa Ruby announced it had filed the complaint that the DHS official named in the complaint appeared to be retaliating against Casa Ruby, among other reasons, for a decision by Corado to decline a request by DHS that Casa Ruby move its main homeless shelter to a site on Division Avenue in Northeast D.C. Corado said she believed the location would be unsafe for Casa Ruby’s transgender clients. 

Corado points out that the location to which the DHS official wanted the Casa Ruby shelter to move was near the site on Division Avenue where transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds, 22, was shot to death during a July 4, 2006, armed robbery in which D.C. police said a group of male suspects were targeting transgender women. 

Corado said that as of Tuesday, members of the community and supporters had contributed about $75,000 through the GoFundMe appeal, raising hope that an immediate shutdown of the shelter could be averted.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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