Tag Archives: hate crime

Marines accused of assaulting gay man in Savannah

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Two Marines have been arrested on misdemeanor charges that they beat up a gay man in Savannah.

A Savannah police report says a police officer was patrolling early Saturday morning when he saw two men running on Congress Lane. The Savannah Morning News reports that moments later, 26-year-old Kieran Daly was found lying motionless on a nearby street.

Two Marines, 22-year-old Keil Joseph Cronauer and 23-year-old Charles Stanzel were arrested a short time later. Cronauer and Stanzel told police they were trying to get away from a gay man who was harassing them.

Daly told police one of the Marines hit him because he thought he was winking at him.

Police records show Cronauer and Stanzel were later released to Marine police.

PR police search for transgender woman’s killer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Police are searching for the killer of a transgender woman in Puerto Rico whose naked, battered body was discovered in her home last week, while activists press authorities to probe the slaying as a possible hate crime.

Ashley Santiago Ocasio, a 31-year-old beauty salon owner with high cheekbones and a flair for fashion, was shot in the head in the central mountain town of Corozal. Her car was missing and there were no signs of a break-in.

The case has grabbed headlines and renewed complaints that Puerto Rico has never invoked a 2002 hate crime law covering crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the last five months alone, there have been five instances where the statute could have been used, said Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“The law is very clear and we’re asking authorities to investigate without prejudice,” Serrano said.

The grisly scene at Santiago’s home raised suspicion that she may have been targeted because of her gender identity. A common characteristic of hate crime killings is excessive violence done to the victim, and there was so much blood spattered on the walls and floors that police initially believed Santiago had been stabbed repeatedly.

“Even if Ashley’s death was also a robbery, there could be the angle of hate. We need that to be investigated,” Serrano said.

Sgt. Luis R. Castro, whose homicide division in the neighboring town of Vega Baja is handling the case, said police will investigate the case as a hate crime if the evidence warrants, but they have not yet made that determination. There are no announced suspects, and an autopsy is pending.

Activists said they don’t want Santiago’s case to slip into the shadows like other recent killings where they unsuccessfully pressed authorities to invoke the statute.

In November, the body of gay teenager Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found decapitated and partially burned in another small town. Prosecutors say the alleged killer confessed to stabbing Lopez. The suspect is facing a charge of first-degree murder, but not a hate crime.

In legal terms, the difference is a matter of punishment: A hate crime conviction results in the automatic imposition of the maximum sentence for the underlying offense. For murder aggravated by a hate crime charge, that’s life in prison in Puerto Rico.

The Santiago case has also put the often-ignored transgender community in the public spotlight in Puerto Rico.

Some local media have referred to Santiago as a “he,” prompting activists to complain of a lack of respect for the victim.

“That’s how she lived, and her family and friends accepted her for who she was,” Serrano said.

Carmen Ocasio told the newspaper Primera Hora she did not think Santiago had any enemies and was at a loss to explain the killing.

“I lost my daughter,” Carmen Ocasio told the paper. “I’m in shock. Why would someone kill Ashley, why?”

Dozens of sobbing mourners attended a memorial service Friday in Corozal, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Santiago’s image.

Puerto Rico is a relatively welcoming place for gays compared with more socially conservative Caribbean islands where gays often live in hiding.

S.F. police probe BB-gun shootings

San Francisco prosecutors who have charged three cousins with a hate crime for shooting a San Francisco man with a BB gun because they thought he was gay may charge the suspects in 11 similar shootings.

A video recording recovered by police from a car belonging to Mohammad Habibzada, 24, and Shafiq Hashemi and Sayed Bassam, both 21, show the cousins shooting at the other victims, San Francisco assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew said.

No serious injuries have been reported from the 11 additional shootings.

SF police probe more hate crime BB-gun shootings

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Prosecutors who have charged three cousins with a hate crime for shooting a San Francisco man with a BB gun because they thought he was gay said Friday they’re considering charging the suspects in 11 similar shootings.

A video recording recovered by police from a car belonging to Mohammad Habibzada, 24, and Shafiq Hashemi and Sayed Bassam, both 21, show the cousins shooting at the other victims, Assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew said.

No serious injuries have been reported from the 11 additional shootings.

“We’re looking to talk to others who may have been victimized,” Buckelew said.

The cousins from Hayward, Calif., are accused of shooting a 27-year-old man in the cheek as he was smoking outside a bar in San Francisco’s Mission district on Feb. 26.

The victim called police and said he’d been shot by a passing car. Police pulled the suspects over as the cousins drove by the bar a second time as officers were interviewing the victim.

Police allegedly found a “rifle-style” BB gun and a video camera inside the car. Investigators later discovered a recording of the shooting on the camera, police said.

“They basically stated to officers that they came to San Francisco to target gay people,” police spokesman Samson Chan said.

The cousins have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, and attempted mayhem for the initial shooting.

They are in custody after a judge granted prosecutors’ request Friday to raise the suspects’ bail to $450,000 each, pending the new charges, which are expected to be filed in the next couple weeks.