In a news conference Tuesday morning, Chief Cathy Lanier said that police are investigating two shootings involving transgendered persons. Police are concerned a potential pattern is emerging and are reaching out to the LBGT community for help.
Both shootings happened just a block apart in the early morning hours, one on a Wednesday and the second on a Sunday. On July 20, Myles "Lashay" Mclean was shot and killed about 4:30 a.m. in the 6100 block of Dix Street Northeast. On July 31 at about 2:45 a.m., another victim was shot at but missed in the 6200 block of Dix Street Northeast.
The victims in both cases are transgendered persons. Due to the similarities in the two shootings, which also includes the method of attack and the locations, the cases are being investigated as a possible pattern.
"When you have two incidents that are that similar in a similar area, we want to make sure we put something out to try and raise the level of awareness to your community," Chief Cathy Lanier said.
Lanier said there's no indication it was the same suspect, but the transgender community is alarmed.
"The ladies are out there for whatever purposes. The fact is, I believe that they're definitely being targeted, absolutely. They're being targeted," said Earline Budd of the Transgender Health Empowerment group.
Mclean and a witness were on the block when two suspects walked directly towards them. One started asking a question, and without provocation pulled a semi-automatic handgun and fired, killing Mclean.
The suspects are described as two black males in their late teens to early 20s. The first suspect is described as being 6 feet tall with a thin build and light complexion. The shooter is described as shorter and with a darker complexion.
In the second shooting, too, the suspect approached the victim on foot, police say. The suspect asked for change and, without waiting for a reply, pulled a semi-automatic handgun and shot at the victim, but missed.
That suspect is described as a black male, 17-19 years old, 5'6", 180 lbs, with a dark complexion.
Killings happened in area known for prostitution
At night, these streets are areas of prostitution where transgender women earn a living.
One man who lives in the area and did not want to be identified said he was annoyed regularly at seeing people in miniskirts out in the streets.
A friend of killed Mclean, who goes by the name of Star Ellis, said the killing devastated her.
"It shook me, it rocked my boat because it could have been me as well," she said.
Star says she and others have been prostitutes here because it's difficult to find other employment with their lifestyle. "It's very hard for us to find a job, you know, you got so many people that discriminate against us," she said.
Police, transgender groups plan outreach
The Metropolitan Police, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) and Prince George's County police have teamed up to enhance patrol efforts in the area, contacting people and distributing flyers with details of the crimes.
Police are asking groups such as Transgender Health Empowerment and other members of the transgender community to join them in sending a message of safety.
MPD advises that people should not walk alone and they should report suspicious persons and activities immediately to police. They are asking anyone with information to call police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746). Anonymous information may be submitted to DC CRIME SOLVERS at 1-800-673-2777 and to the department's TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.