Death of transgender woman could be hate crime


37-year-old Brandy Martell was sitting behind the wheel of her car around 5:15 a.m. Sunday when one or two men walked up and began a conversation. A witness told ABC7 the conversation was cordial, but then a few minutes later, one of the men became angry and fired into the car right where Martell was sitting.

Until late last year, Martell worked as an outreach worker at the Tri-City Health Center in Fremont which serves the transgender and transsexual community. "When you don't provide a space in society for people who you think are the other or different, especially transgender women, especially transgender women of color, when you don't provide spaces for them to be in a safe environment or a safe space, whether it's socializing or services, this is what happens," Martell's friend Tiffany Woods told ABC7.

People gathered at the scene of the shooting Sunday night to remember Martell. Her murder was one of three in Oakland over the weekend.

Investigators are talking to witnesses and trying to figure out exactly what led up to the shooting. It could be considered a hate crime if they find out that the shooter was motivated by a perception of the victim's sexual identity.

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