Three men assaulted a transgender woman after she used the women’s bathroom at a McDonald’s in Puerto Rico, federal authorities said. Two recently pleaded guilty to charges related to the incident.
A 29-year-old transgender woman, identified in court filings only by initials, used the women’s restroom at a restaurant in Toa Baja in February 2020, according to an indictment filed in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in August 2021. A photo of her at the restaurant was shared on social media, the indictment said.
While out driving the following day, Anthony Steven Lobos-Ruiz, Jordany Rafael Laboy-Garcia and Christian Yamaurie Rivera-Otero saw the woman on the roadside, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a Sept. 25 news release. The men recognized her from posts about her use of the McDonald’s women’s bathroom, prosecutors said.
Lobos-Ruiz filmed himself yelling “disparaging and threatening comments to (the woman) from inside the car,” prosecutors said.
The trio decided to get a paintball gun and paintballs, then returned to shoot her, the indictment said.
Lobos-Ruiz filmed “Laboy-Garcia shooting at (the woman) multiple times with the paintball gun,” prosecutors said. Lobos-Ruiz shared the videos with the others, the release said.
Later, Rivera-Otero asked Lobos-Ruiz to delete videos of the assault and harassment, and he complied, the indictment said.
Rivera-Otero’s attorney declined to comment when reached out to by McClatchy News on Sept. 26. Laboy-Garcia’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Laboy-Garcia and Rivera-Otero pleaded guilty to federal charges of “conspiracy to commit a hate crime and obstruction of justice, arising out of an assault with a dangerous weapon against a transgender woman because of her gender identity,” prosecutors said.
In the plea agreement, Laboy-Garcia “admitted that he shot paintballs at (the woman) because she was, and was perceived to be, transgender,” federal officials said.
Prosecutors said that Rivera-Otero “admitted to directing his co-defendant to delete video recordings of the assault and harassment of A.N.L.”
The pair are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 10, the release said.
Previously, Lobos-Ruiz “pleaded guilty to committing a hate crime and was sentenced to 33 months in prison,” prosecutors said.
Toa Baja is about 12 miles west of San Juan.