Hate crime charges filed in Puerto Rico transgender killing

August 6, 2021 GMT

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Three men have been charged with hate crimes after being accused of using a paintball gun to shoot at a transgender woman in Puerto Rico who was later found dead, federal authorities said Friday.

The U.S. Justice Department said the men recognized the victim from social media posts that identified her as a man who allegedly entered a women’s bathroom at a restaurant in February 2020. Police have identified her as Alexa Negrón Luciano.

Authorities said the men verbally harassed her and later drove to get a paintball gun and paintballs that they fired at her.

The federal charges are the first ones filed in the case, with two of the suspects also facing obstruction of justice charges.

“At last, justice is starting to be served for Alexa,” said the Broad Committee for the Pursuit of Equity, a local human rights group. “The assassins killed Alexa, but a lot of people contributed by pointing her out, persecuting her and executing her.”

No one has been charged in the killing of Negrón, whose body was found in the northern town of Toa Baja.

She was one of six transgender people killed in the U.S. territory last year.