After two transgender women were fatally shot and a third was stabbed in less than a year, police in Dallas say they are investigating whether the attacks are connected.
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was found lying face down in the street early Saturday in the latest fatal shooting, police said. She had been brutally beaten in a separate incident in April, captured on cellphone video that was shared widely.
Police say no arrests have been made.
“These cases, although not directly related at this time, do have some similarities the public needs to be aware of,” Maj. Vincent Weddington told reporters Tuesday.
Dallas police also are planning to work with federal authorities to determine whether any of the attacks should be considered hate crimes, Weddington added.
Another transgender woman was killed in October, and police found her body in a vehicle in an elementary school parking lot. The third transgender woman was stabbed repeatedly in April but survived, police say. She provided police with a description of a suspect.
Weddington said the three women were in a car with someone else before they were attacked. The investigation is ongoing, he said.
Two of the victims were also near the same intersection southeast of downtown Dallas before the attacks, police say.
Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of death of a fourth transgender woman whose remains were discovered in a field in July 2017.
At least five transgender people in the United States have been violently killed in 2019 and 26, the majority of whom were black transgender women, were killed in 2018, the Human Rights Campaign says.
Dallas police plan to hold an LGBTQ town hall Thursday.
In Booker’s death, police say her violent beating a month prior was not directly connected. Booker was involved in a minor traffic accident when a group of people surrounded her and one person started punching her.
Police say a person in the crowd offered a man $200 to beat the woman. Others began striking her and stomping on her as they hurled slurs. Booker suffered a concussion, fractured wrist and other injuries, police said.
Edward Thomas, 29, was arrested and jailed on an aggravated assault charge in connection with the attack. His attorneys issued a statement saying he wasn’t involved in Booker’s death and sending condolences to her family.
Leslie McMurray, transgender education and advocacy coordinator for the Resource Center in Dallas, told the Dallas Morning News that the cases highlight the dangers transgender people face around the country. McMurray also cautioned people from drawing conclusions as police have not identified a definitive link in the cases.
“All we have is information that we really can’t connect together, other than that’s a pretty dangerous place to be,” McMurray told the newspaper. “But that can be said of a lot of places across America because being transgender pretty much anywhere carries its risks.”
Contributing: Kristin Lam and N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.
Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller.
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