A 33-year-old man has been charged with murder in three recent killings in Dallas, including the fatal shooting of a transgender woman, the Dallas Police Department announced on Wednesday.
The man, Kendrell Lavar Lyles, was charged in the death of Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a transgender woman who was found dead on May 18, Maj. Max Geron said at a news conference. Mr. Lyles was also charged in the shooting death of a woman killed on May 22 and the drug-related killing of a man on May 23, Major Geron said. The police did not release those victims’ names.
Mr. Lyles was arrested on June 5 in connection to the death of the unnamed female victim, and the police later tied him to the other killings. The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
The arrest came as a string of violent actions against transgender women in the area has frightened the transgender community. Last week, the Police Department said it was investigating four unsolved murders of black transgender women. There were two from 2019 — Ms. Booker and Chynal Lindsey, 26 — one in 2018 and another in 2015.
Major Geron said Mr. Lyles was a “person of interest” in the killing of Ms. Lindsey, who was pulled from White Rock Lake on June 1. He said it was unclear if Mr. Lyles had anything to do with other killings of transgender women in the city.
“We continue to investigate them and will look to see if there are ties to Lyles to those other cases,” he said.
It was unclear if Mr. Lyles had a lawyer.
The police linked Mr. Lyles to Ms. Booker’s killing while investigating the May 22 and May 23 killings. Dallas police officers recognized a car that was believed to have picked up Ms. Booker on May 18, Major Geron said.
Cellphone analysis showed that Mr. Lyles was in the area where Ms. Booker got into the car and at the scene of her murder, the major said.
“Muhlaysia Booker was last seen getting into a light-colored Lincoln LS, which is the same type of car driven by suspect Lyles,” Major Geron said.
In April, Ms. Booker was the target of a brutal beating that left her hospitalized with a concussion and a fractured wrist. A video of the attack, which took place in a Dallas parking lot, was recorded on a cellphone and widely shared online.
At the time of her death, the police said it was not tied to the assault.
Jessica Anderson, Ms. Booker’s childhood best friend, had mixed views on Mr. Lyles’s arrest.
“It’s the strangest thing because I thought it was going to make me happy or give me a sense of relief and in some aspects it does,” Ms. Anderson said Wednesday night.
“But at the same time, it’s just one of those things that he still gets to live and then she doesn’t,” she said. “At the end of the day, I still don’t have any actual answer as to why; what was so necessary, what was so crucial that you had to take her life like that?”
Ms. Anderson said she was also puzzled as to how her best friend and Mr. Lyles met. “That definitely took me off guard, why she would even be associated with someone that looked like that,” she said.
Lou Weaver, the transgender programs community coordinator of Equality Texas, said he was excited that the Police Department “took this seriously and listened to the community.”
“They’re taking seriously getting this conceivable serial killer off the road to make the trans community safer,” Mr. Weaver said. “They can start the healing process after the grieving process.”
Reported attacks against transgender women have been increasing in recent years. The Human Rights Campaign said that in 2018, there were at least 26 deaths of transgender people in the United States that were related to fatal violence. Black transgender women were most often targeted.