Tampa teen faces hate crime charges in attack on transgender woman

Tavares Spencer

Tavares Spencer

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida teen has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly robbing, then shooting a 22-year-old transgender woman in April.

Tavares Spencer, 16, Tampa, Fla., faces adult charges of attempted murder, robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Tavares Spencer

The victim, who asked to be identified only as “Coko,” was allegedly lured to Spencer’s home, whom she had known previously. Spencer reportedly believed Coko was biologically female, and allegedly attacker her after learning she was transgender.

Soon after the April 9 shooting, Spencer bragged in text messages about the incident, using graphic and derogatory language to describe the victim’s gender identity.

Police say that led to Spencer being charged Wednesday with a bias-motivated hate crime.

“It’s just a shock that it happened to me, because I don’t go around hurting people,” said Coko, who denies she ever hid her birth gender.

Sgt. Michael Stout of the Tampa police said detectives were taken by Spencer’s lack of remorse in the incident.

Local Tampa newspapers, including the Tampa Bay Times, and the Tampa Tribune, identifed Coko by his male name, and referred to her as a male “crossdresser.”

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