Almost two weeks after the shocking death of Lawrence King in his California classroom, a gay black teen has been shot dead in South Florida. Police in Fort Lauderdale say 17-year-old Simmie Williams Jr. was dressed in women's clothing and his death is being investigated as a possible bias crime.
"We're looking into the possibility of a hate crime," Sgt. Kathy Collins with the Fort Lauderdale Police tells News 10. "There were some words exchanged prior to the shooting ... Witnesses said he was in a verbal argument with two men and then they heard several shots being fired and the men took off running."
Detectives say Williams was wearing a dress and at the corner of 10th Avenue and Sistrunk Boulevard at around 12:45 a.m. Friday. It is unclear what he was doing in the area. The vicinity is frequented by transgender prostitutes.
Williams' mother tells the Sun-Sentinnel she knew her son was openly gay, but, did not know her son wore women's clothes or what he did after dark. "I gave him $2 for the bus and he never came back," says Denise King, who lived with her son west of Fort Lauderdale. "He was a quiet person, kept to himself. He had a lot of friends. He wasn't a troubled child. He was a happy person."
The distraught mom also says her son "planned to get his GED":and then go to culinary school. "That's what he really wanted to do. That's all he talked about," says King. "He spent the whole day with me yesterday, played with his nephew and cooked dinner."
Although the Lawrence King murder is making national headlines and the community is pulling together, there probably will not be a stampede in Fort Lauderdale to apprehend the men who killed Simmie Williams. Authorities are historically slow to solve murders of black gay young men—a la Rashawn Brazell—and "being black, gay and dressing in women's clothing made Williams 'a minority within a minority within a minority,' says Grant Lynn Ford, dean of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, a congregation that ministers to gays, lesbians and their families.
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