Autopsy Indicates D.C. Man Died of Natural Causes

BY Julie Bolcer

September 16 2011 9:25 AM ET

The autopsy report for Gaurav Gopalan, who was found dead in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, indicates that he likely died of natural causes.

A passerby found his body early Saturday morning in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in northwest D.C. He was dressed in women’s clothing with makeup, so police and advocates initially suspected murder because of a series of unsolved violent crimes against transgender women in the city. It took three days to identify Gopalan, 35, an aerospace engineer who also worked in theater and lived with a longtime partner.

“Bob Shaeffer, who lived with Gopalan and their two cats and two dogs in Columbia Heights, has reviewed an autopsy report which concluded that Gopalan suffered massive hemorrhaging in the brain, probably caused by an embolism,” reports D.C. Theatre Scene. “The autopsy contradicts earlier reports, published elsewhere, that indicated that Gopalan might have been the victim of a hate crime. Gopalan was wearing women’s clothes when he was found unconscious on a street in Columbia Heights.”

Shaeffer said that police have kept the file open, however, and continue to investigate. Gopalan’s family has called him from Nepal seeking answers.

The death of Gopalan occurred two days before the nonfatal shooting of a transgender in southeast D.C. by a man who later surrendered to police. Police have not made any arrests in the fatal shooting of Lashay McLean in northeast D.C. in July or the nonfatal shooting of another transgender woman in the same neighborhood less than two weeks later.







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