Thursday, July 19
Murder of cross-dressing Baltimore teen has community fearing motive was homophobia
Openly gay, black 18-year-old Desean Bowman was slain by another black man at an East Baltimore gas station early in June, when the teen was dressed in women’s clothing.
Baltimore Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Daily News that while the identity of the gunman remains in question, officials are making “positive progress.”
The gunman shot Bowman for what witnesses say appeared to be “no apparent reason,” according to WBAL-TV11. The man was not looking for cash, which has prompted many close to the victim to speculate that homophobia motivated the killing.
Guglielmi said recent search and seizure warrants on a number of cell phones have resulted in several witnesses cooperating with the investigation.
“What was the point of shooting him? He didn't do anything to him. To just take a gun out and shoot someone like that, I don't understand,” Etta McClurkin, the victim’s aunt, told the television station.
At Baltimore’s City Hall on Tuesday, the Guardian Angels, a volunteer group of unarmed citizen crime patrollers, held a vigil for Bowman and other gay, lesbian and transgender victims of crime.
“It's so ironic because African-Americans, we were slaves not too long ago,” Victoria Kent, one of the Guardian Angels present, told the station. “We were a victim of this prejudice, and we still are today. So, to be a victim and to victimize another group of people is ridiculous.”
Guglielmi said it is unclear at this time if the killing will be classified as a hate crime.
“There was no visible evidence on the scene, no foul language, no threats, no swastikas. However, once we identify a suspect ... we can explore a hate crime investigation.”
Bowman’s friends and family were struck by the incident. According to friends, the young man was popular, funny, and compassionate.
“He was just an all-around genuine person,” one of Bowman’s friends, who did not want to be identified, told the station. “He always made you laugh or smile, and he always had something funny to say. If you were having a bad day, he would make you feel better.”
Bowman’s father, Donnie, told the station he “can’t sleep” until the person who killed his son is found.
Those with any information related the incident should contact the Baltimore City police homicide unit.