Death of trans woman in vacant apartment shrouded in mystery

From The Washington Blade:

by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
January 15, 2020

The mother and sister of a transgender woman who was found shot to death in a vacant apartment building in Southeast D.C. on Dec. 30 strongly dispute speculation by police that a security guard fatally shot her after she allegedly fired a gun at the guard and another guard with him one day earlier in the same building.

D.C. police on Jan. 7 publicly identified the person found dead in the vacant three-story apartment building at 4273 Barnaby Road, S.E. as 26-year-old Lamont Penny of no fixed address. In a statement, police said investigators learned that Penny identified as a transgender woman and preferred the name of Mia Penny.

The statement identifying Penny as the decedent in the case came over a week after D.C. police announced that armed private security guards on Sunday, Dec. 29, at approximately 10:43 p.m. “came in contact with an armed, adult suspect” in the Barnaby Road apartment building.

After ordering the suspect to leave the building the suspect began to fire a handgun at the two guards, prompting one of the guards to fire back, police said in an earlier statement.

“Following the exchange of gunfire, the suspect fled from the security guards,” the Jan. 7 statement says. “MPD responded to the scene to secure the building and conduct a search, and were unable to locate the suspect,” according to the statement.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told a news conference on Dec. 31 that D.C. police officers used a dog to help in the search for the suspect but were unsuccessful in finding the suspect inside the building. A police report says the exchange of gunfire took place on the third floor of the building “in what would possibly have been apartment 301.”

The Jan. 7 statement says that on Monday, Dec. 30, at about 4:51 p.m. D.C. police responded to a call from the same building for an unconscious person who was found to be suffering from gunshot wounds. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services workers who also responded to the scene determined the person showed no signs of life, the statement says. It says the individual, later identified as Penny, was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The statement, which was released in the form of a press release, includes a photo of a handgun that police said was found near Penny’s body in the apartment building.

Tasha Penny, Mia Penny’s mother, and Emonie Penny, Mia Penny’s sister, told the Washington Blade in a phone interview on Jan. 6 that they don’t believe the gun belonged to Mia Penny. Both said Mia Penny never showed any inclination to have a gun and wouldn’t know how to use or shoot a gun.

“He doesn’t even know how to pull a trigger,” said Tasha Penny, who, along with Emonie Penny, refers to Mia Penny as her son Lamont but says she recognized and loved Mia as a transgender person who lived as a woman.

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