By KARMA ALLEN, ABC News
(LOS ANGELES) — Police arrested a suspect on Thursday in connection with a hate crime against three transgender women on Los Angeles’ Hollywood Boulevard.
The Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately provide details on the suspect’s identity, but sources with knowledge of the ongoing investigation previously told ABC News that detective were close to apprehending a man who was seen caught on video on Monday, yelling derogatory slurs, robbing them and attacking one woman with a bottle.
Police were expected to hold a press conference on the arrest Thursday afternoon.
Multiple people had initially been implicated in the attack, but police said on Wednesday that they were only seeking one man as a suspect in the case.
The department posted video of the incident that showed the face of the man, but later removed the video due to its disturbing nature. Instead, officials posted screenshots from the video, highlighting the suspect in the hope of tracking him down.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation told ABC News on Wednesday that the department knew the identity of the suspect and was working to locate him. Social media users on Instagram and Twitter also shared tips on the man’s identity.
The victims said the man first approached them inside a store and offered to buy them some items, but then he refused to pay.
They said the same man later returned and approached one of them.
“He held a crow bar to my face and threatened to kill me unless I stripped my shoes off and gave him my jewelry and all my processions,” Joslyn Allen, one of the three transgender women targeted, wrote in an Instagram post.
“He said if i was trans he would kill me,” Allen wrote. “He then forced me to hold his hand while he looks for my friends to kill them for being trans.”
Police said the suspect led Allen away and they walked together for a short distance before she managed to break free.
Once she escaped, Allen said the suspect stuck her friend, Jaslene Busanet, with a bottle, knocking her to the ground, and then made derogatory remarks about her. The other victims said their purses, cellphones and money were stolen.
“I just collapsed to the floor,” Busanet told Los Angeles ABC station KABC. “There were men saying ‘Oh, she’s dead,’ laughing at me.”
Allen said others gathered around and shouted anti-transgender slurs.
“Meanwhile men and WOMEN screaming that I’m a man and telling him to beat me,” she posted to Instagram. “Please help us find them. PLEASE.”
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The group said bystanders watched and recorded for more than five minutes as they pleaded for someone to call 911.
The attack comes amid rising concerns from LGBTQ rights advocates, who have accused U.S. law enforcement agencies of being too lax when it comes to crimes involving transgender victims.
At least 26 transgender or gender nonconforming people have been killed in the U.S. so far in 2020, with transgender women of color making up the bulk of those victims, according to data provided by the Human Rights Campaign.
The group reported 25 killings in 2019 and 29 in 2018, the most it had ever recorded in a year.
ABC News’ Robert Zepeda, Matt Gutman and Alex Stone contributed to this report.
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