Detectives in Washington, DC are searching for two men after the early Wednesday shooting of Lashai McLean, a 23-year-old transgender woman, reports NBC Washington.
Lashay Mclean was walking in the 6100 block of Dix Street NE with another transgender person before 4:30 a.m. when they exchanged words with two men. Shots were fired, and McLean was struck at least once. She was taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
"It just hurts my heart," said Mclean’s boyfriend, Jason Coleman. "It hurts me terrible. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her."
There's no evidence yet that suggests the 23-year-old was shot because she was transgender, police said, but the possibility of a hate crime is being investigated. A $25,000 reward is available for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. "It’s tragic, it’s awful and it’s unfair," said Earline Budd, of Transgender Center. "And again, no one should lose their lives because of who they are."
WJLA and several other outlets incorrectly use McLean's birth name. McLean reportedly transitioned several years ago, but it's not known if she legally changed her name. On that same note: There are questions about the police response and its initial reluctance to identify the victim as transgender, reports the Washington Blade.
In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, police identified the victim as "23-year-old Myles Mclean of N.E. Washington, D.C." The release made no mention that “Myles” is the legal birth name given to a transgender woman who had been using the name Lashai Mclean following her gender transition over the past several years.
The press release – the only information released so far by police – says Sixth District officers responded to a report of a shooting on the 6100 block of Dix Street, N.E. at 4:26 a.m. on July 20 and found the victim suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. The release, which doesn’t disclose whether the victim was found in a residence or outdoors, says the victim was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Mayor Vincent Gray has slammed the killing and anti-LGBTviolence. "We know that hate crimes have been perpetrated on people who are transgender or people who might be gay or lesbian," Gray said. "We don’t know that that’s the case here. We’re going to investigate it fully, of course, and we’re going to investigate it from that perspective as well."
LaShai McLean becomes only the latest Black transgender woman killed in our nation's capitol. You may recall that in August 2009, there was a vicious daylight stabbing of a Nana Boo Mack, a young black transgender woman on a Washington D.C. street. There are no suspects, no arrests and few leads. In addition to being at the greatest risk of violence, the murders of black and Latina trans women often remain unsolved.
Watch FOX's report—including an emotional interview with LaShai's former boyfriend—AFTER THE JUMP ...