One gay man was shot in a Columbia Heights restaurant on March 11 and another gay man and a transgender woman were badly beaten on the street the following day in separate incidents during a period of just over 24 hours.
The gay male victims remained hospitalized this week, with one being treated for a bullet wound to his liver and the other awaiting surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a broken jaw. The transgender woman was treated and released for a head injury after being knocked unconscious.
Police have listed the attacks against the two gay men as anti-gay hate crimes. The attack against the transgender woman was not listed as a hate crime but police are looking into the possibility that it may have been an anti-trans hate crime, according to a police report. Officers assigned to the police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit were said to be involved in the investigation into each of the incidents.
“We appreciate [D.C.] Metropolitan Police Department’s prompt action regarding the recent attacks and we offer the victims our strongest support while recovering,” said A.J. Singletary, chair of the local group Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). “We expect MPD to respond by increasing patrols in the affected areas and tenaciously investigating the crimes committed.”
A police report for the shooting incident says the incident began when a male suspect got into a verbal altercation with the victim, a 31-year-old gay man, about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, March 11. The report says the incident took place inside the International House of Pancakes restaurant on the 3100 block of 14th Street, N.W. in Columbia Heights.
The report says a fist fight ensued between the suspect and the victim and that two other suspects, a male and a female, got involved. It says a witness reported hearing a gunshot during the physical altercation and saw the three suspects leave the restaurant and flee in an eastbound direction along Irving Street, N.W.
“Complainant 1 complained of pain to his chest area,” the report says. “Further investigation revealed that C-1 had been shot with an unknown caliber of firearm and was transported to [a hospital] by ambulance.”
Aaron Woodland, who identified himself as the victim’s cousin, said he and another cousin were with the victim at the restaurant when the incident occurred. According to Woodland, the three suspects were sitting at a table near where the victim and the two cousins were seated. He said the suspects referred to the victim and the two cousins repeatedly as “faggies” while the two parties sat at their separate tables.
Woodland said the altercation began when the victim got up to pay the restaurant bill and the three suspects blocked his path. He said a fight started after the victim pushed his way past the suspects.
“Once he did that they started calling him faggy again,” said Woodland.
Woodland said the victim was being treated for a gunshot wound to the liver and was expected to be released from the hospital in about a week.
Police have listed the incident as a hate-related assault with intent to kill.
A police source said the second incident occurred about 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street, N.W., when the victim, a 29-year-old gay man, got out of a cab about two blocks from his home. The source said accounts from witnesses indicate two or three male suspects attacked the victim while calling him anti-gay names as he began to walk home.
Rodney Shaffer, the victim’s partner, said the victim, who asked that his name not be disclosed, told him he remembers being dragged along the street by the attackers, who did not attempt to rob him. Shaffer said the victim called him for help on his cell phone after the attackers walked away. Seconds later, Shaffer said, another group of attackers took the victim’s cell phone, iPad and wallet, leaving the victim lying on the street in a semi-conscious state.
Shaffer said the victim was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday afternoon to repair a broken jaw. He said the attackers’ blows to his head and face that caused the jaw to break were so severe that the victim had to be sedated with a breathing tube inserted to prevent swelling of tissue caused by the injury from preventing him from breathing.
According to Shaffer, a detective said police were in the process of obtaining a video recording that they hoped has captured the attack through cameras installed in various locations near the site of the incident. Police planned to release posters seeking witnesses of the incident, Shaffer said.
Police reports show that the third incident occurred March 12 at about 11:50 p.m. when a transgender woman was attacked by two young male suspects on the street at West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Street, N.E.
A police report says the victim reported being hit from behind and knocked unconscious. The report says the victim initially told police she could not remember what, if anything, was said at the time of the assault.
Based on a lack of evidence to indicate the attackers used anti-transgender language or showed an anti-trans bias, the case could not immediately be listed as a hate crime, the police report said.
However, when the victim was being interviewed later at the hospital, she was asked if she thought she was targeted because of her status as a transgender woman, says the report, which was prepared by Officer S.D. Hall, an affiliate member of the police Special Liaison Unit.
Hall said in her report that the woman replied that she did believe she was attacked because of her status as a transgender woman.
The police report for the shooting incident at the IHOP restaurant provides these descriptions of the suspects: Suspect 1—black male between 20 and 23 years old, about 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, brown eyes and black hair in a crew cut; light brown complexion and a slender build; Suspect 2: black male between 20 and 25 years old, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing between 190 and 220 pounds, brown eyes, black dreadlocks, medium brown complexion and medium or average build; Suspect 3: black female between 20 and 23 years old, 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing between 190 and 200 pounds, brown eyes, hair in braids, medium complexion and a “heavy/fat/stocky” build.
A description of the suspects in the other two incidents wasn’t immediately available.