Police in Fresno, Calif., are searching for unidentified suspects in connection with the Thursday early morning stabbing death of 66-year-old K.c. Haggard, who local advocates say was a trans woman.
Although this murder was captured on video and shown on television and online by a local TV station, The Advocate has chosen to not display the graphic moment the victim was slashed. A link is provided below for those who choose to view that report.
Haggard was fatally stabbed in the neck at 1:43 a.m. on Thursday by the front-seat passenger in a light-colored Saturn SUV at the corner of Blackstone Avenue and Cornell Avenue, reports Fresno news station KSFN-TV. In security camera footage of the incident captured from across the street by Most Wanted Tattoo Shop, the person is seen calling the victim over to speak to her for less than one minute before striking as soon as Haggard leans closer into the window.
At the time of her death, Haggard was wearing a dress, cardigan, purse, necklace, and blonde wig, as shown in the video -- a detail no local media have noted.
Augie Rubio, owner of Most Wanted Tattoo Shop, noted to KSFN that in the security video the attacker's car was already in the "drive" position with the brakes off when the passenger stabbed Haggard, and the driver sped off immediately afterwards. Haggard remained on the street 20 minutes before a passerby called paramedics. She was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
While little is known about Haggard at this point, both of her two Facebook profiles (the second opened after she stopped posting to the first) indicates that she was retired and a graduate of Chapman University. The more recently updated profile -- which was kept under her male birth name and pronouns -- also includes a four-month-old post in which Haggard refers to herself as "K.c." In it, she gives Rep's Sports Bar, located on Blackstone Avenue, the same street on which she died, a five-star review. Haggard asks in the post for her friends -- "all TG [transgender] girls" -- to come "hangout." She had three otherFacebookprofiles under "K.c. Haggard" that used female pronouns.
Haggard formerly worked as a security guard for Fresno County Private Security and as a legal marketer for LegaShield, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was originally from Visalia, Calif.
Police are investigating Haggard's death as a homicide, but local trans advocates say it was a hate crime. Karen Adell Scot, executive director of TransCare, told KSFN she believes the killing was hate-motivated because it did not appear to be an attempted robbery. ""There was no purse taken, they didn't even try to take it," Scot explained.
Scot, who was allowed by authorities to see the security camera footage of Haggard's death, described to The Advocate that Haggard's attacker struck once with "a thin straight blade" in a seemingly "purposeful" motion to her left carotid artery. "I am a trained knife fighter," Scot explained. "This was a planned death strike."
"As the vehicle sped off [Haggard] held her left of her neck and tried to flag down help," Scot added. "No one stopped. She collapsed on the sidewalk and then many pedestrians just did nothing but look at her body on the ground as she bled out."
Scot helped organize a vigil at the spot of Haggard's death at the corners of Cornell Avenue and Blackstone Avenue last night at 10 p.m. At least ten mourners gathered to lay flowers on the ground, with several holding up a trans pride flag and two carrying signs reading, "We Are Everywhere" and "Trans Rights," as the KMPH news report shows.
Police are now asking for the public's assistance in locating the murder suspect's vehicle, a light-colored Saturn SUV with a sun roof and unidentified markings on the front passenger-side door. KMPH reported a witness describing the vehicle as two-toned, white on the bottom with chrome wheels, and that there were more than two people inside the vehicle.
"Homicide Detectives Alfonso Castillo and Leonard Cabrera were called out for the investigation and are actively following up on the case," Lieutenant Joe Gomez of the Fresno Police Department tells The Advocate.
Haggard's murder comes three days after the beating death of 25-year-old black trans woman India Clarke, whose body was found in a park outside Tampa, Florida's University Area Community Center.
In addition to Clarke, nine other trans women have been reported murdered this year: Mercedes Williamson, 17, in Rocky Creek, Ala.; London Kiki Chanel, 21, in Philadelphia; Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, in Miami; Penny Proud, 21, in New Orleans; Taja DeJesus, 36, in San Francisco; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, in Los Angeles; Papi Edwards, 20, in Louisville, Ky.; Ty Underwood, 24, in North Tyler, Texas, and Lamia Beard, 30, in Norfolk, Va.
Bri Golec, 22, of Akron, Ohio, has been identified as a possible twelfth victim, though there exist conflicting reports from friends and family about how Golec identified. By comparison, 12 transgender women were murdered in the U.S. in all of 2014, though this does not account for individuals whose deaths were not reported or investigated, nor for victims who were misgendered or not regarded as trans women in death.
A second vigil to memorialize K.c. Haggard will be held at the Fresno LGBT Community Center, likely on Thursday, July 30 at 6 p.m.
Anyone with information about her murder is asked to call Fresno Police homicide detective Alfonso Castillo at (559) 621-2449 or Leonard Cabrera at (559) 621-2451. Anonymous tips can also be given to Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.
Watch KMPH's report showing the brutal attack here. KSFN's report is edited to not show the moment of the attack, below.