A 33-year-old man has been charged with murder in three recent killings in Dallas, including the fatal shooting of a transgender woman, the Dallas Police Department announced Wednesday.
The man, Kendrell Lavar Lyles, was charged in the death of Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a transgender woman who was found dead May 18, Maj. Max Geron said at a news conference. Lyles was also charged in the shooting death of a woman killed May 22 and the drug-related killing of a man May 23, Geron said. Police did not release those victims’ names.
Lyles was arrested June 5 in connection to the death of the unnamed female victim, and police later tied him to the other killings. The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
The arrest came as a string of violent actions against transgender women in the area has frightened the transgender community. Last week, the Police Department said it was investigating four unsolved murders of black transgender women. There were two from 2019 — Booker and Chynal Lindsey, 26 — one in 2018 and another in 2015.
Geron said Lyles was “a person of interest” in the killing of Lindsey, who was pulled from White Rock Lake on June 1. He said it was unclear if Lyles had anything to do with other killings of transgender women in the city.
“We continue to investigate them and will look to see if there are ties to Lyles to those other cases,” he said.
Police linked Lyles to Booker’s killing while investigating the May 22 and May 23 killings. Dallas police officers recognized a car that was believed to have picked up Booker on May 18, Geron said.
Cellphone analysis showed that Lyles was in the area where Booker got into the car and at the scene of her murder, the major said.
“Muhlaysia Booker was last seen getting into a light-colored Lincoln LS, which is the same type of car driven by suspect Lyles,” Geron said.
Lou Weaver, the transgender programs community coordinator of Equality Texas, said he was excited that the Police Department “took this seriously and listened to the community.”
“They’re taking seriously getting this conceivable serial killer off the road to make the trans community safer,” Weaver said. “They can start the healing process after the grieving process.”
Reported attacks against transgender women have been increasing in recent years. The Human Rights Campaign said that in 2018, there were at least 26 deaths of transgender people in the United States that were related to fatal violence. Black transgender women were most often targeted.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.