For the third time in less than a year, the Dallas police said Monday that they were investigating the killing of a transgender woman, raising the specter of a spree of violence targeting one of the most marginalized communities in the city.
The police said the woman, Chynal Lindsey, 26, was pulled out of White Rock Lake on Saturday afternoon. Her killing was the second in two weeks of a black transgender woman in Dallas, and she was the fifth transgender woman in three years to be violently attacked or found dead in the city.
At a news conference on Monday, Chief U. Reneé Hall of the Dallas Police Department said Ms. Lindsey’s body bore signs of “obvious homicidal violence.” When asked if there could be a serial killer hunting transgender women in the city, Chief Hall urged people to remain calm.
“Right now we don’t have the evidence to substantiate that,” she said. “But what we are asking each and every one of our community members is to stay vigilant, to make sure you are aware of your surroundings, make sure your friends and family members know who you are with at all times and let individuals know where you are going.”
Major Vincent Weddington told reporters the department was investigating four unsolved murders of black transgender women: two that occurred in 2019, one in 2018 and one in 2015. In addition, the department said in a statement that the remains of a transgender woman were found in a field in July 2017. It said that case was classified as an “unexplained death.”
On Monday, Chief Hall said the department had requested assistance from federal law enforcement in the investigation into the killing of Ms. Lindsey. “The Dallas Police Department has reached out to the F.B.I. because as we know this is the second individual who is transgender who is deceased in our community,” she said. “We are concerned, we are actively and aggressively investigating this case and we have reached out to our federal partners to assist us in these efforts.”
Ms. Lindsey’s killing comes at a frightening time for the transgender community in Dallas. Last month, Muhlaysia Booker, 23, was fatally shot just weeks after being brutally attacked in a parking lot. She suffered a concussion and a fractured wrist in that assault, which drew national attention after a video of it was shared widely online. “Right now is a really scary time,” said Lou Weaver, the transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas. “We literally just celebrated the life of Ms. Booker last week and on Saturday night they find another transgender woman whose body has been left in a marshy area.”
“People are afraid,” Mr. Weaver said. “We’re wondering if someone is targeting the transgender community.”
In a statement, Equality Texas said Ms. Lindsey’s killing was “especially tragic coming at the beginning of Pride Month,” which celebrates the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York, which gave birth to the modern gay rights movement and in which transgender women of color played a pivotal role.
The police said last month there did not appear to be a connection between the two attacks against Ms. Booker. But the department said it was investigating similarities between her slaying and attacks on two other transgender women: an October murder and a nonfatal stabbing in April.
“During the course of these investigations, detectives have learned that besides all victims being transgender females, two of the victims were in the area of Spring Avenue and Lagow Street prior to the offenses occurring,” the department said in a statement. “In addition, it has also been determined that two of the victims got into a vehicle with someone. In another case, the victim allowed someone into their vehicle.”
Fatal attacks on transgender women have been on the rise in recent years, with black transgender women the most frequent targets, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group. According to data compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, at least five transgender women have been violently killed in the country in 2019 and at least 26 were killed in 2018.
Sarah McBride, a spokeswoman for the group, said the attacks in Dallas fit a particularly grim part of the larger nationwide trend.
“We see this phenomenon far too often, that violence will bubble up in a specific area or state each year,” she said, pointing to outbursts of violence in Louisiana and Jacksonville, Fla., in recent years. “There are concerns around contagion or a copycat effect each time a community witnesses a significant number of cases of anti-transgender violence.”