A Tampa teenager is behind bars after police said he shot a transgender woman.
Tavares Spencer, 16, is facing charges of attempted murder, robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The charges carry enhanced penalties because officials are considering this a hate crime.
According to police, the shooting happened in the 5000 block of Winnie Street N. on the morning of April 9.
Police said Spencer arranged to meet the victim, 22-year-old Terrience McDonald, who goes by the name Coko, a week after meeting her.
"I tell anyone, whether its platonic, intimate, I let everybody know because I'm not ashamed of who I am. I'm very confident about my sexuality,” said McDonald. "I'm transgender, if you really don't want to have any dealings with me I understand, but I'm just letting you know so there's no confusion."
When the two met up, police say Spencer pulled out a gun and told McDonald to get to the ground. The teenager then shot McDonald, police said.
"He was like, I'm not playing with you and I could just see it in his eyes, that he really meant business, the hatred,” McDonald said. "Directly right here, when it went through it shattered, not shattered, it fractured my hip and my pelvis bone."
McDonald pretended as though she was dead, so Spencer walked off, police said. However, when McDonald got up and ran from the scene, Spencer saw her and fired another shot toward her, the report said. That second shot did not hit McDonald.
McDonald said Spencer took her phone, necklace and about $5. Detectives said they determined Spencer shot McDonald because of her gender identity.
Investigators said that, within an hour of the shooting, the teenager was bragging about it on text messages and using "defamatory statements" about McDonald's sexual orientation.
"They were very graphic in nature, used some derogatory terms in describing the victim that were very specific into his sexuality preferences,” said Tampa Police Det. Sgt. Michael Stout.
As a result, the teenager is being charged with a hate crime. Police said the teenager was already in jail on previous charges when he was notified of his arrest on this shooting.
Bay News 9 is naming the suspect because he is being charged as an adult.