Philadelphia police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for the murder of a transgender advocate but said they don’t believe the killing was a hate crime.
Capt. Jason Smith said in a Tuesday press conference that 28-year-old Troy Bailey admitted to shooting Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40, to death on a Philadelphia street Sunday morning, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is now facing murder charges.
Bailey initially told police he had been a witness to the shooting and provided a “false description” of the perpetrator to investigators in the hopes of drawing attention away from himself.
Authorities don’t believe Washington’s gender identity was a motive in the shooting.
“The truth as to why Mr. Bailey murdered Ms. Washington may never be fully known,” Smith said according to local station KYW-TV. “According to Mr. Bailey, it was over a dispute the two had pertaining to the sale of a firearm from Mr. Bailey to Ms. Washington.”
Smith added, however, that investigators “don’t necessarily believe that’s the case.”
Bailey reportedly has an extensive criminal history, including past arrests for domestic violence and sexual assault. He was seen on video walking with Washington just before the shooting.
The death sent shock waves through the city's LGBTQ community, where Washington was a well-known and beloved advocate.
"Tamika’s death has devastated our community," said Amber Hikes, executive director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs, according to The Philly Voice. "As Tamika’s loved ones and LGBTQ Philadelphians mourn her loss, our office continues to stand in solidarity with trans women of color — who throughout history have fought for our rights, protected our communities, given us shelter, and reminded us of the incredible power of our identities."
Washington died at a local hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head.
Raquel Evita Saraswati, chair of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, said the news of her death hit the community hard.
“More than a news story, she was a friend, a loved one, a beloved,” she said.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney commended authorities for their “swift action” in the case and said he hoped the arrest would bring some measure of comfort to her family.
“I join Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community in mourning the loss of Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington. Tragically, violence continues to disproportionately impact our transgender siblings, especially trans people of color. We must speak up when these acts strike our communities and demand an end to the violence and discrimination our transgender siblings face,” he said.
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