By Bill Parry
The NYPD has released a photo of a suspect wanted for assault in the brutal beating of a transgender woman in Jackson Heights Nov. 29.
Tomas Rivera, 29, was in a verbal dispute with the woman in front of her home on 93rd Street just north of Roosevelt Avenue around 4 a.m., according to the NYPD.
Rivera demanded a phone that contained text messages between them, investigators said. As the argument escalated, the suspect began to beat the woman, slamming her head into the sidewalk before fleeing with the phone, police say.
The 35-year-old victim was found by police from the 115th Precinct with multiple injuries to her head and face. She was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in critical condition.
Jennifer Louise Lopez, the executive director of Everything Transgender NYC, visited with the woman soon after she was removed from life support, then organized the first of two rallies in Jackson Heights. She said the victim was reunited with her family and was no longer receiving visitors.
“I’m pleased that they have a suspect. Now we hope it’s the right suspect,” Lopez said. “I’m pleased that the NYPD is investigating this case so vigorously and I hope they catch the suspect and find out why he would do something like this.”
The case was being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit. After an interview with a witness established the assailant knew the victim, the attack was reclassified as a domestic dispute leading to a second rally that drew transgender women from around the city.
“I am pleased that a photo of the suspect has been released,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Whether this be a hate crime, a case of domestiv violence or both, violence against the transgender community is simply unacceptable. Whoever did this needs to be taken off the streets before someone else is hurt. I urge anyone with information on the suspects whereabouts to call the police immediately.”
The suspect, Tomas Rivera, who also goes by the name Jorge, is described as a Hispanic man, 5-foot-6, weighing 220 lbs. Anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr