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Arrest made in homicide of transgender woman in Dallas

Dallas police arrested a man in connection with the murder of a transgender woman, Muhlaysia Booker, as well as two other homicides, police said Wednesday. Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 34, has been charged with three counts of homicide.

Transgender Women Deaths-Texas
This undated photo provided by the Collin County Jail shows Kendrell Lavar Lyles. Collin County Jail via AP

Dallas Police Department major Max Geron said the suspect is also a person of interest in the death of another transgender woman, Chynal Lindsey, 26. Divers pulled her body from White Rock Lake on June 1, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth reports.

"During the investigation of two other homicides, detectives realized Lyles drove the same type of car that is believed to have picked up Muhlaysia Booker on May 18, 2019," said Geron. "We don't know the motive for murder at this point."

Booker was found shot to death in May, one month after she was a victim of a brutal beating, which was recorded and posted on social media. A mob of men attacked her, while others spewed homophobic pejoratives and slurs at her.

Booker spoke out about last month's attack saying, "this time it was me, the next time it could be someone else close to you." Booker's cousin, Quanjasmine Baccus, told CBS News last month that she was often targeted for being transgender.

"Everywhere we go she was picked — she was picked on because she is transgender," Baccus said.

Democratic presidential contenders Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are calling for action, while Beto O'Rourke tweeted that transgender women of color across America "deserve better." On Wednesday, O'Rourke, who is from Texas, called out that "the crimes that [members of the trans community] are being reported are not being followed up on."

Booker's previous assault in April was captured on cellphone video. The 23-year-old told authorities she was beaten following a minor traffic accident and said her attackers used homophobic slurs. Video shows several men beating her.

The man accused of beating Booker last month, Edward Thomas, is out of jail but police say there's nothing to connect him to Booker's death. Authorities charged Thomas with aggravated assault. Although it was flagged as a hate crime, gender identity is not listed under Texas' hate crime statute.

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