Off-duty D.C. officer arrested in shooting incident involving transgender women

Washington, D.C. police officer Kenneth Furr was arrested after an incident early Friday morning in which he allegedly stood on the hood of a car while firing multiple shots into the vehicle and yelling “I’m going to kill you.” Three of the car’s five occupants were transgender women, the other two were male friends, according to the Washington Blade. One of the men, identified to the Blade by a representative of D.C.’s Transgender Health Empowerment as a brother to one of the trans women in the car, was shot several timesm and two of the women were injured.

Furr, a 20-year veteran of the police force, has been charged with driving while intoxicated and assault with a dangerous weapon. Furr, who registered a .15 on a breathalyzer test when he was arrested, had allegedly gotten into an argument, about an hour and a half earlier, with the people in the car in a drugstore parking lot. Reports indicate that Furr was firing a Glock 9 and that five shells were recovered at the scene. The shooting took place at a different location, according to WTOP FM 103.5.

The T.H.E. representative told the Blade that the argument started when Furr, appearing to be drunk, approached one of the trans women and solicited her for sex and she turned him down.

Officials said Furr was on restricted duty at the time of the shooting due to a medical condition. His service weapon had been turned into the department, and officials said he was not authorized to carry a firearm when the incident occurred. Reports also indicate that Furr had previously been fired from the police department, but was later reinstated.

The shooting involving Furr came within a month and a half of the murders of two trans women, both of whom were shot to death in separate incidents 11 days apart. The two murders happened within two blocks of each other on Dix Street, according to this report from WTOP FM 103.5.  One woman was walking with a friend on July 20, in the 6100 block of Dix, when they were approached by two young black men. The attackers shot one of the women without provocation, the friend told police. On July 31, a trans woman walking the 6200 block of Dix was shot to death by a young black man who asked her for change and then opened fire.

T.H.E. and the D.C. Trans Coalition held a rally Sunday near the site of the latest shooting. The crowd of about 70 who attended included D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells and D.C. Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes who said she was representing Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

—  admin

UPDATE: Police release description of missing vehicle belonging to NE Dallas murder victim

Earlier we told you about the two men found dead in a burned Northeast Dallas apartment. Police are still not releasing the victims’ names because their bodies were so badly damaged in the fire that they’re waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify them. However, police have now released a description of the vehicle belonging to one of the victims, which is apparently missing. The vehicle is a silver, four-door 2002 Saturn L200, with a license number of 5CVDN. If you see it, call 911.

Again, police have confirmed that they believe the two victims were a gay couple, but they aren’t treating the murders as a hate crime. Police also say they don’t know the motive for the crime, prompting some to question how a hate crime can be ruled out. We posed this question to DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse:

“Detectives will not elaborate at this time,” Janse told Instant Tea. “It may hamper the investigation.”

—  John Wright

Dallas police say 2 men found dead in burned apartment were gay couple, likely were murdered

Two men found dead inside a burned Northeast Dallas apartment early this morning were a gay couple, Dallas police confirmed this afternoon.

The two victims, whose names are being withheld pending notification of their families, were found inside their first-floor unit at the Villa Joya Apartments, 11210 Woodmeadow Parkway, near Ferguson Road and LBJ Freeway.

After responding to a fire call at about 4:10 a.m., Dallas Fire-Rescue crews extinguished the flames before finding the victims — a 59-year-old black male and a 61-year-old white male — inside the apartment. Authorities say the men appeared to have died in a violent attack before the fire was set in an attempt to destroy evidence from the murders.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, told Instant Tea that detectives have no reason to believe the murders were a hate crime, but he added that the motive is unknown.

“Yes, it does appear that they were in a relationship together, but that does not appear to have anything to do with this case,” Janse said. “It is not being investigated as a hate crime or anything like that.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, neighbors said the older victim was disabled and the other was his caretaker. Neighbors also told the DMN that the victims’ apartment had an alarm and surveillance system and that the younger man would never open the door for someone he didn’t know.

Other news reports also indicate that the suspects likely knew at least one of the victims. Authorities believe one of the victim’s vehicle is missing. Patrol officers are searching for it and hope to find the suspects in it.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates. Below is a report from CBS 11.

—  John Wright

Alleged serial killer linked to 5 strangulations in Houston, including two transgender women

Lucky Ward

Houston police have arrested a man they say is responsible for five murders last year, including two in which the victims were transgender women. Lucky Ward, 46, is a serial killer who targeted those he perceived as vulnerable, according to police.

Ward’s victims included Gypsy Rodriguez, 40, of Houston, a transgender woman who was found dead Sept. 13; and Myra D. Ical, 51, a trans woman who was found dead Jan. 18, 2010. Both women were murdered near Houston’s heavily LGBT Montrose area.

The Houston Chronicle has published a story that identifies Rodriguez and Ical by their male birth names, refers to them with male pronouns and calls them “men who dressed as women.” Meghan Stabler, a transgender activist from Houston, said on her Facebook page that she’s asked the newspaper to correct the story.

—  John Wright

FLORIDA: Cops Capture Suspect In Murders Of Wilton Manors Gay Couple

Florida police have captured a man driving the stolen vehicle of the Wilton Manors gay couple they suspect he murdered on Christmas weekend.

Peter Serge Avsenew, 26, was captured near Dundee, Fl., miles away from where police said he murdered Kevin Mark Powell and Stephen Adams on Sunday. The couple was found dead in their home by police. Avsenew, who is from Hollywood, was spotted by cops in Powell’s black 2003 Saturn Vue.

Police have not yet revealed how the victims died and have not speculated publicly on what relationship the suspect may have had with them. The victims had been together for 29 years.

UPDATE: Avsenew has an extensive criminal history. At the time of his capture, he was already wanted on a probation violation in the Keys.

Across the state, Avsenew has been taken into custody more than a dozen times since 2003, state records show. He has been convicted of vehicle theft, robbery, grand theft and engaging in fraud through bounced checks. He also has pleaded no contest to marijuana possession, loitering, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence. Avsenew also relies on about eight different aliases, including the name Peter Avsenen, according to the state Department of Corrections.

According to Avsenew’s Facebook page, he has a newborn son. Below a recent posting of the boy’s photo, a woman with the same last name (probably the suspect’s mother) warns: “Peter, Look at these pictures does this baby deserve anything but the best? then think before you do anything stupid.”

(Tipped by JMG reader Greg)

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

An afternoon with ‘Night of the Hunter’ at Lyric Stage

From creepy book to noirish film to a musical?

If you need to know how a story about an ex-convict murders his wife,  stalks two children who happen to have a whole lotta loot and pretends to be a minster can turn into a musical, we have an answer. Or rather, Lyric Stage does. Stephen Cole and Claibe Richardson have turned the Davis Grubb’s novel into just that. We’re curious how they will pull it off, because there’s  not a whole lotta happy going on in the story. And aren’t musicals all about the happy?

DEETS: Irving Arts Center’s Carpenter Hall, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. 2:30 p.m. $25–$50. LyricStage.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Catholic Values: Same-Sex Love Worse than Brutal Murders

After Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City must be recognized in other states and that same-sex couples could adopt, the Archdiocese of Guadalajara claimed that same-sex marriage was worse than Mexico's drug war.  

People who cannot tell the difference between cold-blooded murder and two people building a family are not fit to be a part of any normal, human, ethical discourse in the twenty-first century.  They have no moral compass at all.   

And it gets better.  In response to the Court's adoption ruling, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara added, “Would you want to be adopted by a pair of faggots (maricones) and lesbians?”  “His Eminence” further claimed, without evidence, that Mexico's Supreme Court justices were bribed by the Mexico City mayor.  Making things up also seems to be a Catholic value.   

The Archdiocese's comparison and Iniguez's hateful rhetoric should not be seen as abberations.  They are an extension of Pope Benedict's hyperbolic, fear-mongering characterizations of same-sex marriage and homosexuality.  Benedict has called same-sex marriage as among “some of the most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good today” and a threat to creation.  

Rome has criticized neither the comments by Iniguez, nor the comments by the Archdiocese.  And the Bishops' Conference of Mexico stands by them:  

We lament that in manifesting these concepts to the public, there exist those who respond with recriminations and threats, claiming this is intolerant, when tolerance is supposed to ensure that we call all express our opinions and positions.  For this reason, we express our solidarity and our feelings to Cardinals Norberto Rivera Carrera and Juan Sandoval Iniguez about this delicate issue.

Iniguez refers to gay men as maricones and an Archdiocese spokesperson says LGBT people are worse than murderers, and they're the victims of “intolerance”.  We're familiar with this kind of “flip-of-the-script” in the United States, as well.  It is always significant when the Roman Church hierarchy does not respond to a hateful comment (or gives implicit support, as in this case), because they would certainly censure a supportive comment from a prelate very quickly. 

Most importantly, comments like these are a reminder that despite desperate claims to the contrary, opposition to gay rights is fundamentally about bigotry and hate.  

Brian Rainey (MDiv) is a PhD student in Religious Studies at Brown University.  His areas of focus are Hebrew Bible and Assyriology. 
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright