A transgender Michigan man says he was the victim of a transphobic pellet-gun attack while traveling along the sidewalk in his wheelchair.
Andrew Blake-Newton, 30, said he was shot five times Saturday from a car full of people who were mocking him and yelling anti-transgender slurs.
“No one should have to go through this,” Blake-Newton told NBC affiliate WDIV of Detroit. “No one.”
The incident occurred just after midnight while Blake-Newton was traveling from his home in Pontiac, just outside Detroit, to the local gas station to buy a snack, he said. Blake-Newton told WDIV-TV that the people who shot him were in a small tan sedan and laughed at him as they drove away.
“It is reprehensible that someone would do such a cowardly and despicable thing to an individual in a wheelchair, and they need to be held accountable,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Bouchard said a reward of $1,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
In a video interview with WDIV, Blake-Newton showed what appeared to be pellet-gun marks on multiple parts of his body, including his legs.
“It was so bad I was leaking fluid, and puddles of fluid were around my legs at the hospital,” he said. “Since this happened, I can’t get comfortable. I have barely been able to sleep due to the pain.”
Blake-Newton’s husband, Gareth Newton, expressed relief that his spouse wasn’t more seriously injured.
“I’m glad he’s still with me,” Newton told WDIV-TV. “I would have been heartbroken if I’d lost him.”
Blake-Newton said he was grateful that the weapon used by the assailants “was just a pellet gun.”
“I have seen trans people of color on social media being gunned down,” he said.
So far this year, the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks fatal violence against the transgender community, has reported the deaths of at least 14 trans and gender-nonconforming people due to violence, 12 of them trans people of color.
There has also been a surge in threats and attacks targeted at LGBTQ Americans more broadly: A report from the Anti-Defamation League and the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, released last month, found that more than 350 anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism incidents occurred in the U.S. over an 11-month period starting June 2022.