A transgender woman, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, better known as Alexa, was shot and killed early Monday morning in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, officials confirmed on Tuesday. She was killed hours after someone called police to report that Ruiz was using the women’s bathroom at a McDonald’s restaurant.
A video that appears to show Ruiz’s killing was uploaded to social media. At least two voices can be heard in the disturbing video, which was still on YouTube as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Hey, can you give me some of that ass,” one person can be heard saying.
"We must denounce the hate speech of the fundamentalist groups that have promoted a climate where they prosecute and persecute a trans person for the mere fact of using a bathroom."
Pedro Julio Serrano
It was unclear if that person spoke again on the video or other people did, but this is what could be made out:
“We are going to shoot you up.”
“Let’s spin the tires on this motherf-----.”
“You bet I am going to go and shoot him.”
Then, the sound of a gun loading can be heard, followed by at least 10 shots.
Puerto Rican police announced on Tuesday that they had received tips that suggest four teenagers were involved in the crime, according to Telemundo Puerto Rico.
Police said that Ruiz’s body had yet to be claimed by her family.
Pedro Julio Serrano, a San Juan-based LGBTQ activist, demanded that authorities investigate the slaying as a hate crime. In a statement posted on his website, Serrano said Alexa was “stalked and hunted” prior to her killing and that a video posted shows that the crime was “a hate crime motivated by intolerance.”
Serrano also chided conservative groups that have promoted panic around the idea of transgender people using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. He also scolded the media for misgendering Alexa: Initial reports had claimed that “a man dressed in a black skirt” had been killed, a description that Serrano equated to the promotion of transphobia.
“We must denounce the hate speech of the fundamentalist groups that have promoted a climate where they prosecute and persecute a trans person for the mere fact of using a bathroom,” Serrano wrote.
Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan and a candidate for governor of Puerto Rico, called attention to Ruiz's death, along with Serrano’s activism.
“You can feel the pain of Pedro Julio and of all those who understand that the lives of our TRANS people are worth the same as any other compatriot,” she wrote on social media.
Puerto Rico's governor, Wanda Vázquez, said Tuesday, “Everything points to this being a hate crime, and that’s how it will be treated."
To honor Ruiz and combat the misgendering of trans people in news reports, her Twitter supporters shared the hashtag “#SeLlamabaAlexa,” or “Her name was Alexa.”
Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, called the attack on Ruiz “completely unacceptable.”
“Puerto Rican law enforcement authorities must expeditiously and thoroughly investigate this horrific crime, including its posting on social media,” the group stated.