A 55-year-old Indiana transgender woman, Crystal Raquel Cash, remains in the hospital and unable to speak after she was shot in the face by 26-year-old Gerald Duane Lewis, the Evansville Courier & Press reports.
According to the Courier & Press, Lewis claims membership in Israel United in Christ, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a hate group. Lewis was arrested on Monday and charged with attempter murder, robbery and carrying a handgun without a permit.
In their report of the shooting, SPLC wrote that the group believes that "African Americans are the real Jews, the Biblical chosen people of God" and they "oppose integration and interracial marriage and are virulently anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-LGBTQ – frequently expressing those views in public locations."
Cash's brother, Johnny Dickens, told WFIE that Cash did not know Lewis, but that she believes she was targeted and that the crime should be classified as a hate crime.
According to the arrest affidavit, Lewis came into Cash's business, asked to use the restroom and when he came out, Lewis shot Cash and yelled a homophobic slur. After Cash offered a detailed description via a pen and paper because she was unable to speak, Police later found Lewis with the 9mm gun used to shoot Cash.
The Courier & Press claimed that Cash ran a massage parlor that she advertised on adult website Backpage.com, but her brother contested those claims.
"I just want to set the record straight and tell the world that my sister has come a long way from where she's come," Dickens said to WFIE. "She has made something of herself. She's a professional business owner and she is not some sort of a prostitute that's luring people into her office."
In a statement to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Nathanyel Ben Israel, a man who identified himself as an elder of Israel United in Christ, called the shooting an "unfortunate situation" but said that Lewis is "not [currently a member of our organization" and said he had been removed from membership months prior for not following the organization's strict guidelines.
"As we staunchly stand alongside the Holy Bible and its tenets, Israel United does not teach or condone violence against any person," the statement said.
This news comes the same week as news of the death of Washington, D.C. transgender woman Deeniquia Dodds, who was shot on July 4.