Philadelphia Police have made an arrest in the Sunday morning murder of a popular longtime transgender rights advocate.
Troy Bailey, 28, of the 1100 block of West Venango Street, has been charged with murder. Police took him into custody around 9 p.m. Monday.
Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said Bailey admitted to shooting Michelle "Tamika" Washington, a 40-year-old Black transgender woman, around 5 a.m. Sunday.
“The truth as to why Mr. Bailey murdered Ms. Washington may never be fully known. According to Mr. Bailey, it was over a dispute the two had pertaining to the sale of a fire arm from Mr. Bailey to Ms. Washington,” Smith said. “We don’t necessarily believe that’s the case.”
Smith said the shooting is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Police said surveillance video from 3800 block of North 11th Street, where the shooting occurred, shows Bailey and Washington walking around together before the shooting.
When police responded to the shooting, Smith said, Bailey initially gave them a false description of a suspect in an attempt to mislead them. He later reportedly admitted to the shooting.
Washington was a longtime advocate for the Philadelphia transgender community. Her death touched the LGBTQ community and beyond.
“I join the Philadelphia LGBTQ community in mourning the loss of Michelle 'Tamika' Washington. Tragically, violence continues to disproportionately impact our transgender siblings, especially trans people of color,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “We must speak up when these acts strike our communities and demand an end to the violence and discrimination our transgender siblings face. We will continue to ‘Say Her Name’ as we work towards a safer Philadelphia for all our residents.”
Amber Hikes, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said that Washington’s death has “devastated our community.”
“Tamika was a brilliant and outgoing member of Philadelphia's transgender community, known for her advocacy and mentorship, and she will be profoundly missed,” Hikes said. “The epidemic of violence that continues to plague the transgender community — disproportionately impacting trans women of color, is heartbreaking, frightening, and infuriating."
Hikes later praised the police department for arresting Bailey, saying, "While her bright light and presence in the LGBTQ community cannot be replaced, we find comfort in knowing that we are one step closer to justice for Tamika."
Washington is the fifth transgender person to be killed in the U.S. so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. All five have been Black transgender women.
In 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 deaths of transgender people in the U.S. due to violence; the majority of them were Black transgender women.