Moss Point police seek leads in transgender woman’s shooting

Moss Point Police Chief Art McClung
Moss Point Police Chief Art McClung

Moss Point police are searching for suspects in the July 24 shooting that left a transgender woman critically injured, Police Chief Art McClung said.

The shooting occurred around midnight in the area of Lily Circle and Elder Ferry Road just inside the city limits. A passerby saw the victim, McClung said, called 911 to report the shooting and tried to help the victim until police and paramedics arrived.

McClung is not identifying the victim for safety reasons. He said she suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to an undisclosed hospital. As of Monday afternoon, she remained “in a coma” and on life support, he said.

At this point in the investigation, McClung said, investigators are still working the case and looking for leads from the public to help identify whoever is responsible. The suspect or suspects will face charges of attempted murder, he said.

The shooting has also been reported to the FBI, McClung said, in the event police investigators determine the shooting was a possible hate crime.

Though state law does not have a hate crime statute that applies to gender identity, there is a federal law that applies to a hate crime involving a transgender victim.

The victim is one three known transgender victims of violent crime in South Mississippi in the last two years.

Dee Whigham, a transgender woman from Hattiesburg, was found stabbed to death in a room at the Best Western hotel in the St. Martin community on July 23.

Navy sailor, Dwanya Hickerson, who is stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, has been arrested on a charge of capital murder in Whigham’s killing.

At this point, McClung said, investigators have not found any links between this crime and other crimes in the area, though that remains under investigation.

“We have nothing concrete right now, but we do have leads we are following,” he said Monday.

In an unrelated case in May 2015, Josh Vallum, stabbed and beat to death transgender teen, Mercedes Williamson, 17, in George County. Vallum has since pleaded guilty to a state charge of murder, though a federal investigation is ongoing to determine if any hate crime charges will be filed in that case.

To report information on the Moss Point shooting, call the Moss Point Police Department at 457-1711 or Mississippi Coast Crimestoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Crimestoppers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in a case. All calls are confidential.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45