Judge Karen Howze said that based on evidence presented by police and prosecutors, probable cause exists that Reginald Anthony Klaiber, 24, committed an assault with a deadly weapon by allegedly stabbing the teen on the moving train around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Metro police classified the assault as a bias related crime, saying in a statement that witnesses told transit detectives Klaiber made “bias motivated remarks about the victim’s transgender status” just before he allegedly committed the stabbing.
“He is a danger to the community,” Howze said during a late afternoon presentment hearing on Thursday.
Howze scheduled a full preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. on Friday, in which prosecutors must present evidence to further establish probable cause that Klaiber committed the stabbing.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Metro said transit police apprehended Klaiber on the platform at the Fort Totten Station as he attempted to flee the scene.
Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel told the Washington Blade that police recovered a three-and-a-half inch folding knife from Klaiber at the time of his arrest.
Stessel said the victim, whose name hasn’t been released, was taken to a local hospital where she was being treated for a non-life threatening stab wound.
Court records in Maryland show that Klaiber has a long history of arrests in Prince George County on charges that include assault, illegal weapons possession, and robbery. He pleaded guilty in D.C. to separate charges of felony robbery and misdemeanor threats to do bodily harm in 2013, according to D.C. court records.
A man who identified himself as Klaiber’s father outside the courtroom on Thursday following Klaiber’s presentment hearing told reporters his son has been struggling with a serious drug problem over the past several years.
The United States Attorney’s office, which is in charge of prosecuting the case, didn’t disclose at the presentment hearing on Thursday whether it will retain the bias related designation filed by police as the case moves forward in court.
LGBT activists have expressed concern in the past that the U.S. Attorney often drops the bias related designation filed by police in cases involving anti-LGBT violence. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office have said their decision not to file a hate crime designation in court is based solely on whether they believe there is sufficient evidence to prove a biased motivation before a jury in a trial.
Jae-la White, 19, one of two friends accompanying the victim on the train at the time of the stabbing, told the Blade that Klaiber began to hassle the victim when he boarded the train at the West Hyattsville Station, making note of her appearance.
According to White, Klaiber at one point stated in a loud voice, “Oh, you’re a man.”
“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,” White said. “He faced her and said I will stab you up and blow your brains out.”
Seconds later Klaiber wrapped his arms around the victim and stabbed her in the back, White said.
The Blade will report on new developments in the case following Friday’s court hearing.