Austin, Texas – Austin police have identified a second man involved in Monday night’s double murder of a lesbian athlete and her mother in Southeast Austin. KXAN reports that authorities made the announcement on Wednesday, and are currently trying to decide the role this second suspect played in the brutal shooting of the two women by José Alfonso Aviles, disgruntled father of the lesbian’s teenaged girlfriend. Both Norma Hurtado and Maria Hurtado, 24 and 57 respectively, died in the attack. Aviles was infuriated about the same-sex dating relationship his daughter had with Ms. Hurtado, and had threatened both Ms. Hurtado and her family with harm prior to the double homicide. As police reconstructed the killing, Aviles and the second suspect drove to the Hurtado home on Monday evening, knocked on the door of the residence, and as Ms. Hurtado and her mother answered the door, Aviles allegedly opened fire. Both suspects then fled into the night. At the time of the attack, Ms. Aviles, daughter of her lover’s assailant, was in the back of the Hurtado residence and heard the shots fired. She discovered the bodies on the floor, and called 911. Both daughter and mother were pronounced dead at the scene. José Aviles fled to the San Antonio area where U.S. Marshals arrested him on Tuesday. He has been charged with capital murder, and is being held in the Bexar County Jail without bond. We Are Austin reports that friends gathered at the Hurtado home Tuesday evening to comfort each other and to remember the slain women. Norma Hurtado was a renowned soccer player in the Millennium League, and was considered one of its best players. On Thursday, April 21, a Community Candlelight Vigil in memory of the slain women is planned at the offices of OutYouth, 909 East 49 1/2 Street in Austin, beginning at 8 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend. Speaking on behalf of the faith communities of Austin, Rev. Karen Thompson, senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Austin, decried the attack prompted by a father’s anger at the lesbian relationship between Ms.Hurtado and Ms. Aviles. “It is always, always heartbreaking when ignorance and hatred lead to this kind of violence,” she said. “But today, on this Thursday of Holy Week, the heartbreak and sadness are multiplied by a terrible irony. As our GLBTQ brothers and sisters gather together to mourn two more senseless deaths, Christians all over the world will be gathering to observe Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday, the day on which our tradition holds that Jesus had a last supper with his disciples and gave them a new mandate, ‘A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.'”
Austin, Texas – A lesbian and her mother were gunned down in Southeast Austin Monday evening by a teenager’s father, furious over his daughter’s queer relationship. Norma Hurtado, 24, and her mother, Maria Hurtado, 57, were shot to death in their home, while Norma’s 18-year-old lover, the gunman’s daughter, was in the back of the house. José Alfonso Aviles, 45, and an unidentified second man, allegedly knocked on the door of the Austin residence in the 7100 block of Dixie Drive, and when the Hurtados answered the door, Aviles opened fire. Witnesses told police they saw two men flee the scene in a Nissan. Both Norma and Maria were killed in the hail of bullets. Aviles was apprehended in the St. Hedwig section of San Antonio on Tuesday where he surrendered to officers of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. An investigation of a green Nissan turned up a pistol thought to be the murder weapon. Aviles has been charged with capital murder and is being held in the Bexar County Jail without bond. Details of the murder are slowly coming to light as the investigation proceeds. Norma Hurtado and the Aviles girl (whose name is not being released ostensibly because of her age) had been in a dating relationship for several months, much to the chagrin of Aviles. According to an arrest affidavit made available to KVUE News, witnesses testified to police that Aviles had threatened Norma Hurtado and her family over the lesbian relationship. Lt. Gena Davis of the Austin Police Department told KVUE, “We do know that the father had threatened harm toward Norma previously. This has been a dispute between these two individuals and subsequently we have suffered a horrific act of violence in our community.”
The Dallas Voice broke the story in North Texas. The Austin Police have not classified this case as a hate crime. Reporter John Wright opined that though Austin has a lesbian District Attorney, she is unlikely to pursue a hate crime angle in the double homicide. Although Texas has a hate crime statute on the books that lists “sexual preference” as a protected class, it offers no sentence enhancement in cases of capital murder. Texas is notorious for leaving its gay/lesbian hate crimes law uninvoked in seemingly obvious cases of homophobia such as this one. Texas D.A.’s reason that the hate crimes law raises the bar of proof, burdening a prosecutor who is likely going for the death penalty anyway. An attempt is being made to tamp down the story, reminiscent of other LGBTQ hate crimes investigations where the authorities want to minimize the sexual orientation motive for a murder that otherwise bears all the classic marks of an anti-lesbian honor killing. Your News Now (YNN) reports APD’s Lt. Davis as saying, “This was a very isolated incident. There is no fear to the community.” Austin, long considered “safe” for LGBTQ people, has in recent months experienced a spate of anti-gay and lesbian violence, including attacks on gay softball players and on gay community leaders outside popular gay bars. The nature of murder aimed at lesbians and gay men by straight killers may seem “isolated” as the police wish to portray it, but the brutality, rage, and callousness of the crimes bespeak a message to the whole LGBTQ community of Travis County and Central Texas. The Unfinished Lives Project Team would be very surprised if lesbians and gay men in Austin are buying the line the APD is trying to sell them. Austin is no longer safe and secure for its LGBTQ population.
Austin, Texas – In an apparent gay bashing, a leading gay activist and his male friend were attacked on December 26 outside Austin’s popular nightclub, Rain. Bobby Beltran reported to the Dallas Voice that he and Christopher Ortega had just shared a parting hug outside the club at approximately 1:30 a.m., when a white sedan filled with five angry men stopped in the street shouting homophobic slurs at the couple. Beltran, who helped organize this year’s Queer Bomb in Austin, says that one of the men in the automobile shouted, “Fucking faggots! Cut out that queer shit!” According to On Top Magazine, Beltran yelled back, “That stuff’s not welcome here in Austin. We don’t accept that.” The quintet rushed out of the car, surrounded Beltran and Ortega, and assaulted them with punches, yells, and kicks. The gay men tried to fight off their attackers, and the violence lasted for three of four minutes until one of the assailants warned that police were coming. The attackers were described as two black men, two Latinos, and one white man. Beltran suffered cuts, bruises, and a wounded eye. Ortega suffered a major blow to the jaw that may have broken it. According to the gay men, somewhere between 20 and 30 onlookers witnessed that attack, but none of them lifted a finger to help. In the melee, Beltran shouted out the number of the license plate belonging to the white sedan, but no one bothered to write it down, and he cannot remember it after the fact. The non-responsiveness of the crowd (some of them gay), and the lukewarm response of the Austin Police to the brazen assault, has the LGBTQ community in Austin worried about the safety of a city that was until recently considered gay-friendly. Ortega told local NBC reporters from KXAN, “The response [of the police] was like ‘Sorry guys. We’ll give you a report number. We’ll never catch these guys.’” Beltran said to The Horn, a University of Texas Independent news outlet, “I’ve never in my life been in any kind of violent situation, especially a hate crime, so it’s been pretty traumatic.” Beltran continued. “Austin is supposed to be a gay haven, especially on 4th Street. What scares me even more is that nobody even helped. I’m so afraid to go back down there.” FBI statistics show Austin leads the state of Texas in reported anti-gay attacks for medium-sized cities. Beltran says the hate crime attack on Ortega and himself is the third such violent incident in the capital city this year. In February 2010, for example, two male team members from the Shady Ladies Softball Club were assaulted near the Austin City Hall. The attack on the gay athletes sparked a downtown March Against Hate last March. Beltran posted a photo of his injuries on the web (see above), and commented, “I’m just trying to get the word out there that this is going on in Austin, and it’s not safe right now. To find out that [gay bashing] is here in Austin on 4th Street, and knowing that fellow gay men were not doing anything about it, is just shocking.”