Arrest made in transwoman’s North Philadelphia murder

Arrest made in transwoman’s North Philadelphia murder

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Police arrested a suspect in last weekend’s murder of a transwoman and community advocate in the city’s Franklinville section. 

Michelle Washington, a transwoman of color, was shot to death in the early hours of May 19 on the 3400 block of North 11th Street. Police responded to the scene at approximately 5:07 a.m.

Washington, 40, suffered gunshot wounds to the head, body and buttock, according to police. She was transported to Temple University Hospital and pronounced dead at 5:33 a.m last Sunday.

Homicide detectives arrested Troy Bailey, 28, a resident of the 1100 block of West Venango Street, around 9 p.m. May 20.

Bailey was charged with murder, possession of a firearm with an altered manufacturer’s number and violations for carrying a firearm as a former convict and without a license, among other offenses. 

Police believe Washington didn’t know her attacker and that the shooting stemmed from a robbery, Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said in a May 20 email. 

Washington’s gender identity “doesn’t appear” to have motivated the shooting, Kinebrew added via email.

“However, the investigation is still in the early stages, and it would be premature to rule out the possibility of a hate crime,” he wrote.

Washington was known as Tamika, said Deja Lynn Alvarez, trans advocate. The victim also was a longtime advocate for the city’s transgender community.

Washington was a “no-nonsense” person who “didn’t take s--t from anyone,” said Alvarez, who knew her for more than 20 years.

Alvarez said the issue surrounding Washington’s murder affects the trans community more than it does the LGBTQ community at large. 

“It’s very important that we stress that because we’re not seeing LGB people murdered every other day,” she added. “It’s time that we say this is happening to transwomen, it’s happening to black transwomen, it’s happening to transwomen of color. …It’s time that we shift the focus to that.”

In a statement, Amber Hikes, executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, said Washington was a “brilliant and outgoing member of Philadelphia’s transgender community” who will be “profoundly missed.”

“The epidemic of violence that continues to plague the transgender community, disproportionately impacting trans women of color, is heartbreaking, frightening, and infuriating,” she added. “The Office of LGBT Affairs will continue combating hate and providing support for the LGBTQ community in Tamika’s memory.”

Mayor Jim Kenney thanked police for their quick action in Washington’s case and condemned the violence the trans community experiences.

“We must speak up when these acts strike our communities and demand an end to the violence and discrimination our transgender siblings face. …The City of Philadelphia stands with Tamika’s friends and family, and all members of the LGBTQ community, during this difficult time,” Kenney said in a May 21 statement. “We will continue to ‘say her name’ as we work toward a safer Philadelphia for all our residents.”

Washington previously studied nursing at the Community College of Philadelphia, according to her Facebook page.

Mikal Woods, a female impersonator at Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, according to his Facebook page, posted May 19 on his profile that he was “devastated,” identifying Washington as his mother.

He later took to Facebook live to thank those who reached out with condolences.

Washington’s death is part of a recent national uptick in homicides of people who identify as LGBTQ.

In 2017, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs determined 27 hate-related homicides of transgender and nonconforming people occurred in the United States. Transwomen of color accounted for 22 of these incidents. This represents a 42-percent increase in these crimes from the 19 reported incidents in 2016.

On Sept. 5, 2018, Philadelphia transwoman Shantee Tucker, 30, died of a gunshot wound to the back.

On May 18, transwoman Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Booker’s murder occurred weeks after an April 12 incident in which several men assaulted her, said Major Vincent Weddington of the Dallas Police Department in a May 19 press conference.

The April assault was captured on video and made national headlines. n

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