D.C. police asked for the public’s help Monday in identifying a person found dead in Northwest Washington over the weekend who might have been a victim of a crime targeting transgender persons.
But police do not know who the person is or how he died. The investigation was announced at a news conference at police headquarters during which police tried to reassure members of the transgender community that police were seriously investigating crimes against them.
“There is a feeling out there that the transgender community is not getting the service that others may be getting. We don’t want that feeling out there,” said Assistant Chief Peter Newsham.
The body was found in Columbia Heights Saturday morning. A passerby walking along the 2600 block of 11th Street NW about 5:20 a.m. spotted a body in a sidewalk tree box, said Capt. Michael Farish, who heads the department’s homicide unit. There was “no significant visible trauma” to the body, Newsham said.
The person was clutching a pair of gold-colored heels and appeared to be wearing makeup, according to police. He had short, dark, wavy hair and wore a purple and black waist-length jacket and a gray shirt, Farish said. Money and jewelry were found on the body.
The man was wearing a club wristband, Farish said. Detectives visited several clubs over the weekend to try to determine which club issued the wristband.
A police flier described the person as a 20- to 35-year-old man of Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent with black hair and brown eyes.
It’s not certain he was transgender, according to police. “We don’t know who the person is, so we don’t have any details about them or their lifestyle,” Newsham said.
Meanwhile, a 26-year-old transgender woman was shot in the 2300 block of Savannah Street SE about 3 a.m. Monday, Newsham said. The victim is expected to survive. Farish said that the victim knew the shooter and that police have a suspect in the case.
Police reported two other people were shot about 7:30 p.m. Monday in the same area: a man in the 2200 block of Savannah Terrace SE, and a male juvenile in the 3200 block of 23rd Street SE. There was no indication of any link to the morning shooting, police said.
In recent months, police have reported several attacks on transgender people.
On July 20, 23-year-old Myles Mclean, known to friends as Lashay Mclean, was fatally shot in the 6100 block of Dix Street NE. Police said two people walked up to Mclean and another person and asked a question, then one pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and shot Mclean.
On July 31, a transgender woman was shot and injured in the District. Police have not identified a motive or suspect. Police initially believed that shooting might have been related to the killing of Mclean, but Newsham said Monday they no longer think so.
Members of the city’s transgender community have expressed concern about the department’s commitment to investigating crimes against them. Newsham said Monday that the department has had two recent meetings with transgender advocates and that communication is improving.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has said she wants to train a wide group of officers to deal with crimes against various groups in the city, Newsham said. But Ruby Corado, a member of the DC Trans Coalition, said Monday that communication with the police was better when a dedicated unit of officers focused on crimes against gays, lesbians and transgender men and women.
Earline Budd, founder of the nonprofit group Transgender Health Empowerment, said the transgender community is cooperating with police and is looking to repair their relationship. She said she got a 3 a.m. call from Assistant Chief Diane Groomes about Monday’s shooting.
“We are trying to move forward. . . . to make sure that the murders, the assaults, the stabbings are resolved,” Budd said.