Puerto Ricans charged with federal hate crimes for allegedly shooting trans woman with paintball gun

Clemente Ruiz Nazario United States Courthouse, in Hato Rey, P.R. — PHOTO: Jxu10, Wikimedia Commons

An indictment unsealed last week in a federal court in San Juan, Puerto Rico charged three Puerto Ricans with hate crimes for allegedly targeting and shooting a trans woman with a paintball gun because of her gender identity. Two of the men were also charged with obstruction of justice.

According to court documents, three men, Jordany Rafael Laboy García, Christian Yamaurie Rivera Otero, and Anthony Steven Lobos Ruiz, were driving in Puerto Rico when they spotted a 29-year-old trans woman identified as A.N.L in court records. Records show the three were arrested on August 6th.

The men recognized A.N.L from several posts on social media — a photo of the woman had been circulating with some users characterizing her as a “man who entered the woman’s restroom” at a local restaurant. At least one of the posts included a photo of A.N.L in the restaurant wearing feminine clothing. When the men spotted her, authorities say, they yelled slurs at her from the car and abruptly sped off, recording on a cell phone as they did so.

The men left, purchased a paintball gun and paintballs, and turned back the way they came. When they found A.N.L on the side of the road again, they began firing paintballs at her, recording the second encounter as well. Officials say Lobos Ruiz shared the videos with at least one person, however, later deleted them from his phone at the request of Riviera Otero.

If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence of 10 years for the hate crime charges, five years for conspiracy charges, and a fine of over $200,000 for each charge. Riviera Otero and Lobos Ruiz face a maximum sentence of 20 years for their obstruction charges.

Records show Lobos-Ruiz is represented by Federal Public Defender Eric A. Vos, and Laboy-Garcia is represented by Ramon L. Garay-Medina. Riviera Otero hasn’t been appointed an attorney yet.

A hearing for arraignment and detention has been scheduled for August 10th at 2:30 p.m. All three men have been placed under temporary detention at MDC Guaynabo.

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