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Transgender Woman Found Murdered in Puerto Rico Intersection

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Monday June 6, 2011

A 19-year-old transgender woman was found shot to death in an intersection in San Juan's Santurce district early on Monday, June 6.

Primera Hora reported that Puerto Rico Police Cmdr. Orlando Melndez identified the victim as Carlos Alfredo Gmez Pea. Melndez told the newspaper that the victim was "dressed as a woman." Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force identified the victim as Karlota Gmez Snchez.

The crime was reported around 1:40 a.m., and police said Gmez's body had three bullet wounds.

"What we have is he [the victim] approached a vehicle and there were shots," Orlando Melndez told a local radio station.

LGBT activist Ada Conde told Primera Hora that local authorities should investigate Gmez's death as a hate crime.

"It is imperative that in this case the authorities follow Attorney General Obdulio Melndez's order that prosecutors investigate the hate angle in all crimes committed against any member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender communities," added Serrano in a statement. "On the other hand, we have to elevate our voices on what is clearly an epidemic of homophobic and transphobic violence."

Serrano further noted 17 LGBT Puerto Ricans have been murdered over the last year and a half. These include Ashley Santiago and gay teenager Jorge Steven Lpez Mercado. Alejandro Torres Torres was found stabbed to death in Ponce on June 4.

"This is unacceptable," said Serrano.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.