Lethal D.C. Attack on 2 Transgender People Probed as Possible Hate Crime

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 28, 2009

Two transgender people who were stabbed Wednesday, one fatally, in Northwest Washington might have been victims of a hate crime, D.C. police said, although investigators had not determined what led to the violence.

The victims, one of whom suffered lacerations that were not considered life-threatening, were found bleeding in the 200 block of Q Street shortly after 2:30 p.m. The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime based on "a shred of information" that detectives obtained from the survivor, said acting Lt. Brett Parsons, the department's top liaison to the city's gay community.

The surviving victim told a detective that the attacker might have used an anti-gay epithet during the incident, Parsons said. But it would be "extremely premature" for authorities to definitively classify the crime as having been motivated by the victims' gender identity, he said.

"Until we're able to do a really detailed interview with the surviving victim, I'm not sure that anyone really knows," Parsons said.

Police identified the dead victim as Joshua Mack, 21, of the 7500 block of Clinton Vista Lane in Clinton. Parsons said Mack was a biological man but was living full time as a woman, using the street name "Nana Boo." Mack was pronounced dead at Howard University Hospital.

The other victim, also a biological man living as a woman, suffered "serious lacerations" that required immediate medical treatment, Parsons said.

Detectives conducted a brief interview at the scene, Parsons said, before the surviving victim was sedated. Authorities hoped to talk more with the victim Thursday, Parsons said.

The surviving victim was a witness to the incident, and D.C. police do not publicly identify witnesses. Parsons said investigators were not completely sure of the survivor's identity.

Officers responding to a report of an assault on Q Street found a blood-soaked crime scene, Parsons said. "It was a moving scene, like the stabbing occurred at one location and the victim collapsed at another location, all within the block."

It was unclear whether a weapon was recovered.

As for Mack's wounds, Parsons said: "I can tell you, just looking at the scene, it was an artery. There was blood splashed everywhere along the block."

As is standard for D.C. police in homicide investigations, the department offered a $25,000 reward for a tip leading an arrest and conviction in Mack's killing. Police urged anyone with information about the case to call 888-919-2746 or send a text message to 50411. The department pledged to honor requests for anonymity.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company