An older man picked her up on the streets of Baltimore. In his Ford Escape, they went to a hotel in Maryland. And hours later, she allegedly stole his car and, inexplicably, stormed the gates of the agency that monitors as much of the world’s Internet and telephone traffic as it can.
The driver of the stolen SUV that tried to storm the National Security Agency earlier this week has been identified by the Associated Press as a transgender sex worker.
Ricky Shawatza Hall, who went by Mya, was shot by NSA police as she accelerated toward the agency’s gate.
Kayla Brooks, who works at a transgender outreach program in Baltimore, told the AP she last saw Hall on Sunday — the day before she was killed. Brooks said Hall “seemed high and was looking for a date” while walking in an area of Baltimore frequented by sex workers.
“She was nice and friendly,” Brooks said, “but very troubled.”
Friends of Hall told WBAL she lived in an abandoned building in the 2200 block of North Charles Street in Baltimore. The portrait they painted of her recent state of mind was not pretty.
“In the last couple of days, I knew something was wrong,” Jamia Leonard, who had known Hall for about eight months, told WBAL. “I didn’t know exactly what was going on but I could hear him talking out of his head. He would travel from this abandoned house to another high-rise right down the street back and forth, and back and forth.”
Leonard added: “I’m sure that they didn’t leave their house knowing that they wouldn’t come home that day or that that would be the end.”
In 2013, Hall was charged with stealing a bottle of methadone from a woman during an assault. The Associated Press talked to the lawyer who represented her on that charge.
“She was a very nice person,” Anthony Guillaume said. “She was professional and grateful and always upbeat when I dealt with her. She was thankful for the help I was able to give her.”
Guillaume added: “But I could tell she was troubled and had problems in her past life. I got the sense that she was a loner — I’d ask her if she wanted me to call anyone, family or friends, but she always came to court alone.”
Hall’s criminal record included convictions for theft, assault and prostitution.
Law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation told The Washington Post the other person in the car, who survived, was identified as Kevin Lamont Fleming, 20. Fleming and Hall checked into a motel on Route 1 with a 60-year-old man after he picked them up in downtown Baltimore Sunday night or early Monday. They allegedly stole the man’s Ford Escape before driving to the NSA’s Fort Meade campus.
The FBI said the attack did not appear to be planned or related to terrorism. A gun and cocaine were found in the SUV.
“I know she wasn’t in the right head-space when she was in that car,” Leonard said. “She doesn’t even know how to drive like that. She doesn’t have a license … it’s not like she was a pro at driving and could steal cars.”