Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Gov. Says Fatal Shooting of Transgender Woman Is Hate Crime

Police are investigating whether a video posted on social media shows the actual killing

Transgender Day of Remembrance flag
Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The recent killing of a person believed to be a transgender woman that has shocked and angered many in Puerto Rico is likely a hate crime, Gov. Wanda Vázquez said Tuesday.

While no one has been arrested, she said the investigation into the fatal shooting of a person identified as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also known as Alexa, is making progress.

“Everything points to this being a hate crime, and that’s how it will be treated,” she said.

The victim’s body was found Monday in the northern town of Toa Baja a few miles away from highway PR-165.

Police are investigating whether a video posted on social media, in which at least two men are heard mocking and threatening a person believed to be the victim followed by gunfire, is the actual killing.

The murder came a day after police said they had received a complaint about the victim entering a woman’s bathroom at a fast food place.

The Puerto Rico police department told Telemundo Puerto Rico that based on preliminary information, it was looking for four teenagers allegedly involved in the incident.

Police have not been able to locate Ruiz's relatives and no one has come forward to claim her body, Cap. Ricardo Haddock, director of the Criminal Investigation Body in Bayamón, said Tuesday during a radio interview with WKAQ.

Activist Pedro Julio Serrano, who urged police to consider the murder a hate crime, said in a statement to Telemundo that he was outraged by the murder.

“This terrible murder of a trans woman, revealed in a video where they stalked and hunted her, is nothing but a hate crime motivated by intolerance," Serrano, the spokesperson for Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, said.

Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, said on Twitter that it would join Serrano and other organizations in calling for justice for Ruiz and said that police should also investigate the video being posted online.

"This violence is completely unacceptable," the tweet read. "Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are and treated with dignity and respect!"

Associated Press/NBC
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