25-year-old Dustin Parker is believed to be the first transgender or gender non-conforming person to die a violent death in 2020. Dustin was working as a cab driver in McAlester, Oklahoma when he was killed by gunfire early on New Year’s Day.
McAlester police are investigating after a man was found fatally shot inside a taxi early Wednesday.
The shooting occurred in the 200 block of West Delaware Avenue about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Capt. Kevin Hearod of the McAlester Police Department said.
A responding officer found a Rover electric taxi that had been hit by gunfire multiple times, Hearod said.
Dustin was a married father of four and a founding member of Oklahomans for Equality-McAlester Chapter: Southeastern Equality. That organization is hosting a vigil and fundraiser for Dustin’s family on Friday, January 3, 2020 at 6:30 PM.
Police continue to investigate.
In McAlester, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation processed the crime scene. Hearod said the call came in during a shift change, allowing two shifts of officers, along with tracking dogs from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, to canvas the area for leads. Shell casings reportedly were recovered at the scene, but the dogs reportedly failed to pick up a trail on any potential suspects.
Hearod said investigators spoke to several people in the area who heard the gunshots, but given the New Year’s Eve celebrations hours earlier, he said some wrote them off as celebratory until police cars showed up that morning.
Something Captain Hearod said in this interview with the Tulsa World resonates with me.
Hearod said that as of Wednesday evening, investigators hadn’t found any evidence to suggest that Parker was targeted because he was transgender.
“Right now, it doesn’t look that way,” Hearod said. “But obviously, we’re not taking anything off the table. … We don’t have anything indicating that right now.”
Too often, the police DO take hate crime motives off the table right away as if the only manifestation of a hate crime is live video of someone screaming a slur before they attack. I’ve read countless reports of police saying there’s no indication of a hate crime, seeming to dismiss the possibility. I hope Captain Hearod’s open-mind bodes well for solving this case and reassuring other trans and gender non-conforming folx in Oklahoma.
Meanwhile the McAlester is surrounding Dustin’s wife and children with support and love. His supervisor at Rover Taxi has taken a leading role creating a fundraiser for Dustin’s family.
Rest in power, Dustin. Your life had an impact that will resonate for many years to come and your death will serve as a reminder to all of us to continue your work.
During 2019, we documented the violent deaths of 21 transgender individuals, most of whom were Black trans women. It is very likely the true number is much higher. Reports of the shooting death of as of yet unnamed trans woman in Washington DC on December 29 are still pending.
My list of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary neighbors who have lost their lives to violent deaths in the US during 2020.
- Dustin Parker – McAlester, Oklahoma. January 1, 2020. Age 25.