Transgender student assaulted in parking garage at De Anza College

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KGO) -- A De Anza College student is speaking out after being attacked on the Cupertino campus. The student is transgender and police are calling the incident a hate crime.

Deejea Smith described coming face-to-face with an attacker in the Flint Center Garage. Smith recalled, "The second I hit the top stair he had come down and was just facing me." Smith said, "I had zero chance to protect myself."

"The second he saw me he screamed 'faggot' and just punched me in the face and I was knocked out cold," said Smith, who went straight to police after waking up on the steps of the garage.

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"Because what was said we are considering this a hate crime," said Foothill-De Anza College District Police Chief Ronald Levine.

From there, police brought in a sketch artist. The sketch and a suspect description was sent out to the campus community. The assault that knocked Smith unconscious happened late in the evening on Jan. 26. The week previous to that, Smith says he was hit from behind in the same garage. He didn't see the attacker in that incident, but filed a report with a campus adviser. After the second incident he told police of the first attack.

Smith says he keeps a low profile on campus and can't think of any activity that would make him a target. "I come to school. I do my work and I keep my head level," said Smith.

Classes are offered late, so during the week it's not uncommon to have students on campus at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. One thing you won't find on campus though, exterior security cameras.

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"A petition went around a couple of quarters ago where thousands of students signed the petition in hopes to get cameras in the parking lots and nothing came about it," said Smith.
The college administration says there isn't funding available for cameras in addition to concerns about privacy.

Campus police have followed leads from the sketch, but so far no arrests.

"We've increased both foot patrol and vehicle patrol of the areas," said Levine.

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The college says they've offered both on campus and off campus resources and that they're deeply concerned about the student's well-being and the incident.

"I'm anxious all the time. I don't eat, I don't sleep, and just coming on campus feels unsafe," said Smith.

Smith says he's working with others to create a safer environment for LGBTQ students on campus.

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