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Trans Man Murdered in Puerto Rico, Hours After Assault Report

Yampi Méndez Arocho

A transgender man was shot to death in Puerto Rico last week, marking the third homicide of a trans American this year and the second in Puerto Rico.

Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, was killed March 5 in the town of Moca, according to reports from local media, the Human Rights Campaign, and the New York Daily News. He had reportedly been attacked by a woman about five hours before the fatal shooting. He was shot twice in the face and twice in the back. He was misgendered and deadnamed in some media reports.

His mother had called police after the initial assault. “There is little information about what happened between this investigation and his eventual death,” the HRC’s blog post notes. “Local LGBTQ advocates are calling for authorities to thoroughly investigate this crime, including an investigation into whether or not this was a bias-motivated crime.”

Trans woman Alexa Negrón Luciano, also known as Neulisa Luciano Ruiz and Alexa Ruiz, was shot to death in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, in February, hours after being reported to police for using a women’s restroom. Activists are calling for her death to be investigated as a hate crime. Puerto Rico has an LGBTQ-inclusive hate-crimes law, but it is seldom used.

Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of LGBTQ group Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, expressed disappointment with law enforcement’s handling of both homicides. “If the treatment of Yampi’s murder is added to the mismanagement of Alexa’s murder, we are talking about a crisis of confidence of the LGBTQ communities towards the police, because they are failing to comply with their own protocols of handling cases with dignity and sensitivity with the trans community,” he told Puerto Rican media outlet Primera Hora.

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