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(WASHINGTON D.C.) — A well-known performer in District drag shows, who dressed and lived as a woman, was killed by a man who paid for a sex act and then felt he had been deceived, D.C. police said yesterday.
Elvys Augusto Perez, 25, who went by the name Bella Evangelista, was shot and killed about 4:30 a.m. Saturday near Allison Street and Arkansas Avenue NW.

After the shooting, D.C. police stopped Antoine D. Jacobs, 22, as he pedaled furiously away from the scene on a bicycle. Jacobs was arrested and charged with first-degree murder while armed.

Jacobs has said that he shot Perez when Perez tried to rob him, police said.

But investigators have discounted that story, police said. They instead think that Jacobs believed he had paid a woman for oral sex. Afterward, another person apparently told Jacobs that the prostitute was a man and Jacobs allegedly returned to the scene and shot Perez.

Sgt. Brett Parson, of the D.C. police gay and lesbian liaison unit, said the killing was being classified as a “hate/bias motivated” crime. If convicted of committing such a hate crime, Jacobs could receive an extended prison sentence under D.C. law, Parson said.

Friends described Perez, an immigrant from Guatemala, as funny and outgoing. Perez often competed in drag pageants around the city and danced and sang a selection from “The Phantom of the Opera” during the talent portion, friend Yengy Santiuste said.

Perez also periodically performed in drag at Club Chaos, on 17th Street NW, sometimes lip-syncing to songs by salsa legend Celia Cruz. Club co-owner Meni Peri said Perez was one of his favorite performers and that he had chosen Perez to perform at his birthday party this month.

Word of Perez’s death reached the club Saturday night, when a drag revue was planned. Peri said the show went on, but there “was a lot of crying in the club.”

“It was a very, very sad, very cold night in the club,” Peri said. “It was a really, really sad and scary moment.”

Earline Budd, a transgender activist, said she knew Perez was homeless and had struggled with drug addiction, partly resulting from “being a transgender that really was estranged from her family.”

Perez’s last known address was in the 1500 block of Ogden Street NW, police said.

Budd and others noted that Perez’s death occurred just days after the one-year anniversary of the killing of two transgender teenagers in Southeast Washington. Deon Davis, 18, who was known as Ukea, and Wilbur Thomas, 19, who went by Stephanie, were shot multiple times as they sat in a car.

Police have said those killings might have been a hate crime, but the killings have not been solved.

Budd said that Perez’s case appeared to illustrate the dangers faced by transgender sex workers. Many of them are unwilling to tell clients that they are biologically male, Budd said, but those who do not can risk a violent reaction.

“If you’re engaged in taking money from these guys . . . you know, we need to be honest,” Budd said.

The site of the killing was in an area frequented by female prostitutes but was outside the traditional “strolls” of transgender sex workers, activists said. It was also less than a block from a new police Drug Free Zone, part of a new program in which officers temporarily saturate a small area and strictly enforce anti-loitering laws.

D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) said the killing “shows the police, you know, that [criminals are] a couple of steps ahead of them.”

Officers from an anti-gang unit were patrolling the area when the shots were fired and saw Jacobs riding away on an otherwise empty street, police said. Just before the officers caught up to him on Iowa Avenue NW, police said, Jacobs tossed away a handgun.

He is expected to be arraigned today in D.C. Superior Court.

Jacobs lives in the 1400 block of Buchanan Street NW, two blocks from the site of the shooting. His sister answered the phone at his home yesterday and said in a brief interview that she did not know anything about the events of Saturday morning.
 

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