Update: Shooting victim says she was target of hate crime
Published Wednesday, June 15, 2011 7:05PM ADT
A woman who was shot during an attempted home invasion early Tuesday in Halifax believes she is the victim of a hate crime.
Chris Cochrane, a performer known as "Elle Noir," identifies herself as transgendered and she says she was targeted because of it.
The 25-year-old was in her Evans Avenue second-floor apartment when she heard a knock at the door shortly after 1 a.m. She told police the two men behind the door identified themselves as police officers, so she opened it.
When she saw that one of the men was holding a firearm, she quickly tried to shut the door. The suspects attempted to the push it open and shots were fired through the door, hitting Cochrane in the arm.
"There was a huge, loud ‘bang' and there was a hole through the door and I looked down and thought I might be shot, and in the light, sure enough, my arm looked like a hamburger, just like a hamburger," Cochrane explains.
The suspects then fled on foot.
Police arrived around 1:30 after receiving a report of shots fired. They searched for the men but were unable to locate them.
"The concern is that somebody was injured by a firearm, but certainly we're also concerned over the fact that's somebody's out there identifying themselves as a police officer in this nature," Const. Brian Palmeter told CTV News Tuesday.
Cochrane was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital where she received treatment for a gunshot wound to her right arm.
She was released from hospital Wednesday morning and says she's happy that she can still move her wounded arm.
Her best friend, Allister MacDonald, says he can't understand why someone would want to hurt his friend.
"Elle is a very hard worker," says MacDonald. "She works all the time, seven days a week, seven nights a week. She's 100 per cent professional. There's no thought in my head why this would happen."
But Cochrane has a theory as to why she was targeted. She believes the incident was a hate crime because her attackers shouted homophobic slurs as she was hit through her door with a bullet.
"To be yelling ‘tranny, faggot' they must know I'm there," she says.
Police say they can't define the shooting as a hate crime at this point and that they are looking for more information and for witnesses to come forward.
"Certainly we're exploring, there are motivating factors why this took place," says Const. Brian Palmeter.
Police don't have any suspects at this point and Cochrane isn't taking any chances. She's moving out of her Evans Avenue apartment right away.
Lisa Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, says she believes violent crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community in Canada are on the rise.
"It really hits home quite literally when it happens in your community," says Buchanan. "We think Nova Scotia is a pleasant place to be, people are friendly. We're usually not dealing with things of this magnitude but it can truly happen anywhere."
Cochrane says she hopes the incident doesn't scare others to stay "closeted" and she is just hoping to get her life back on track.
"In the next two weeks or so I'm going to be strapping on those heels because I may be fearful, but I have to live my life to the fullest."
As for the two suspects, police say they could face charges of attempted murder and impersonating a police officer if caught.
They are said to be white males who were wearing dark, baggy clothing at the time of the attempted invasion. One was also wearing a red bandana.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl and Felicia Yap
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