March 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Woman charged in IHOP shooting of gay man

D.C. police on Monday arrested a 27-year-old woman in connection with the March 11 shooting of a gay man at the International House of Pancakes restaurant in Columbia Heights that police listed as an anti-gay hate crime.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced that police charged LaShawn Yvonne Carson with aggravated assault while armed.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Carson appeared at a presentment hearing on Monday shortly before the news conference. Court records show that Judge Diana Harris Epps ordered Carson held without bond pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday.

“I am pleased and relieved to announce that a suspect in this dastardly crime has been arrested,” Gray said in a statement released at the news conference.

“As I said at the time of the shooting, while all crime is horrific and destructive to the fabric of our community, hate crimes are particularly insidious because they instill fear in an entire group,” he said. All of our residents should have the right to walk the streets of our neighborhoods free of fear that they will be targeted because of their identities beliefs or characteristics.”

Lanier said at the news conference that although police classified the shooting as a bias crime related to the victim’s sexual orientation, it would be up to the United States Attorney’s Office to decide whether to add a bias related designation to the charge of aggravated assault while armed.

Matt Jones, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said Tuesday that prosecutors with the office don’t make a decision on whether to designate a case as a hate crime until it comes before a grand jury further along in the prosecution.

“Our investigation in the case is onging,” he said. “That is not something we normally charge at this point.”

Under the D.C. hate crimes law, those convicted of a hate designated crime of violence are subjected to a greater penalty, including additional time served in prison.

“This is an enormous relief,” said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), in commenting on the arrest. Graham, who’s gay and who spoke at the news conference, called the shooting “an insane act” that created an atmosphere of fear in the community.

“To shoot somebody at breakfast in a public restaurant over a perceived slight is insane behavior by any standard,” he said “So this is a great relief for the community that I represent,” said Graham, noting that the IHOP restaurant is located in his ward.

Police said the 31-year-old male victim in the shooting reportedly had been subjected to anti-gay name calling. The victim’s cousin, who was present during the incident, told the Blade that a scuffle broke out near the entrance of the restaurant when the woman and two male friends blocked the victim’s path when he got up to pay the bill. Police said witnesses saw a scuffle break out and heard the firing of a gun.

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said last week that the incident may have been captured on a video surveillance system at the restaurant.

Police said the victim had been treated in a hospital for a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The shooting took place one day before two other incidents of anti-LGBT violence surfaced in the city. A 29-year-old gay man was badly beaten and robbed a short distance away at Georgia Avenue and Irving Streets, N.W. about 9:30 p.m. on March 12. Police and the victim’s partner said attackers called the victim anti-gay names.

Police listed the incident as an anti-gay hate crime

At about 11:45 p.m. that same day, a transgender woman was knocked unconscious at West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Road, N.E. by at least two assailants, police said. Police said the woman was unable to hear whether the attackers used anti-trans language during the attack and have insufficient evidence so far to list the incident as a hate crime.

The three incidents prompted friends of the 29-year-old victim to organize a march through the streets of Columbia Heights and other parts of the city last week to draw attention to anti-LGBT violence. Close to 700 people turned out for the event.

“I would like to thank the mayor, chief of police and the MPD for the swift response and arrest of a suspect in the heinous shooting of a member of the LGBT community at the IHOP in Columbia Heights,” said gay activist Peter Rosenstein. “No one, no matter what their cultural background, color or sexual orientation should feel unsafe in our community.”

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

  • Glad she was caught, however, it would be really nice if they would try to catch those responsible for all of the Trans killings as well. Not much being said or done on that front…kind of expected though.

    • REALLY?, Not a hate crime? uh..duh…I’m so confused. And here I thought that when people get singled out because of an inborn characteristic, with hate slurs hurled at them, and then get shot, well I kinda think that it is a hate crime! What planet are you from?

    • I just dont understand why the LGBT society is such a MF threat to all you so-called straight people. Gay people dont want your stupid ass. So what are you sfraid of? Just like the KKK you are ignorant of those who got their shit together-Punk MF’s

  • This make me harken back to my childhood and the tale of the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ stop making this incident into something it’s not, IT NOT A HATE CRIME!

    • Not a hate crime? so if the gay guy had yelled the “N” word while shooting the black, that isnt a hate cirme either? look, dumdum, hate crimes are charged because simple bigoted fools in small towns arent prosecuting to the full extent of the law-this ensures that teh perosn gets the MAX sentence-we cant have savages pulling out guns in IHOPS can we??

    • only in what I am sure is your hateful mind. Wonde4r what you would think if someone shot your kid etc

  • This is waay not enough performance from MPD. We need more detailed information from MPD regarding the other two hate crimes that week. And we need those cases closed, as well.

    Just because MPD claims there is no evidence of a “hate crime”– specifically, a criminal violation of DC’s Bias-Related Crimes Act– doesn’t mean MPD has appropriately investigated a case for such evidence. Everyone needs to keep drilling down to see if MPD responders and detectives are effectively pursuing a case.

    Also, if a verbal or other overt indicator of a hate (bias-related) motive occurred, on a time line *BEFORE* the overt act of a robbery, why shouldn’t a hate crime be considered by MPD the PRIMARY motive in a case?

    The case of the violent assault by two perpetrators on a trans woman in NE still has many unanswered questions. In which (and from which) direction was she walking? That might give potential neighborhood witnesses a clue as to the perpetrators– as well as potential other victims a warning. Were neighborhood businesses and residents canvassed both for eye/ear witnesses and available security cams? And ASAP, in a timely manner? Is there absolutely no description of the assailants at all? Why was the assault not even reported on 5D’s Daily Crimes Report on the MPD-5D listserv?

    Even the absence of hate crimes evidence in a fully investigated case does not mean that the crime was not a hate crime. It just means that MPD/USAO will unlikely be able to prove that in court of law beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    In the absence of any other likely motive, IMHO that WV Avenue NE case very likely WAS a hate crime.

  • The media’s political correctness of refusing to describe the perpetrators of these crimes are killing us because we have no idea of whom to be on the “lookout” for. Age? Sex? Was it a group of 2? 3? 4? Were they White? Black? Asian? What’s up here folks????

  • One down, the rest of the city to go

    Half the city of DC is a hate crime waiting to happen. DC is one tension ridden place and these people that live in the heart of the District are out of control. Anyone that thinks they can shoot someone in an IHOP is crazy. I certainly hope the prosecutor takes the time and location of the shooting into consideration. This wasn’t a normal argument that escalated out of control. These three thugs were true haters that were looking for big trouble as the first thing on their daily agenda. She deserves a good 30 year sentence for the gun violence alone. Add in the bias crime enhancement and add another 10 years. Hopefully we won’t see her again until the middle of the century.

  • The perps of this crime were black. This is typical of the homophobic M.P.D. They must need a perpetrator to carve the word “fag” on the victims chest in order for these idiot detectives to have enough evidence of a hate crime. When someone is calling you a faggot right before they shoot you, THAT’S A HATE CRIME! The real deal is that the detectives are protecting their own when they won’t charge the perps with the Hate Crimes enhancement. M.P.D. is full of bigots. I hear them running their mouths all the damn time when I’m around them.

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