March 13, 2017 at 8:20 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Casa Ruby attacker arrested
Casa Ruby assault

Police arrested Andrew Cook on Monday.

D.C. police on Monday arrested a male suspect who allegedly smashed through the front door, assaulted an employee, and threatened to return to kill someone early Sunday afternoon at Casa Ruby, the LGBT community services center on Georgia Avenue, N.W.

Acting Police Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, said officers investigating the case arrested Andrew Cook in the Seventh Police District on Monday. Parson said police planned to release a statement shortly providing information about Cook, including the offense or offenses he was charged with.

Parson said that at the time police investigators responded to the Casa Ruby offices at 2822 Georgia Ave., N.W. on Sunday police listed the offenses Cook committed, based on interviews with witnesses, as misdemeanor assault, felony destruction of property, and felony threats to kill.

Cook, who was described by Casa Ruby employees as being in his early 20s, was being held in jail Monday night following his arrest. He was expected to appear in court Tuesday morning for a presentment hearing, where prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office were expected to present formal charges against him.

Casa Ruby’s founder and executive director, Ruby Corado, told the Washington Blade on Sunday night that Cook had been an occasional visitor to Casa Ruby over the past several weeks and was known to employees and some clients.

According to Corado, he identified as being straight and had expressed interest in meeting transgender women who go to Casa Ruby for various services. Corado said staff members reported that Cook became violent on Sunday after one of the staff members ordered him to leave because he was harassing clients.

Shortly after leaving, he returned with a large stone or brick and used it to smash open Casa Ruby’s front door, which a staff member had locked after initially persuading Cook to leave, Corado said. Once inside, he assaulted the staff member who asked him to leave during his earlier visit and threw objects at the staff member. Before leaving after being told the staff had called police, Cook allegedly threatened to return again to kill someone at the community center.

“Whatever his motive, he had no right to become violent and destroy our property,” Corado told the Blade. “He did not come for services. He came to prey on people.”

Coming on the heels of the release last week of the city’s annual hate crime report showing that reported hate crimes against transgender people in D.C. increased by 90 percent in 2016, Corado said Cook’s alleged attack and threats against Casa Ruby became a traumatic experience for her and the staff and clients.

“We worked so hard to make this place a safe space for our transgender community,” said Corado. “And now this happens.”

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

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