Brandy Martell, 37, a Hayward resident, was killed in downtown Oakland early Sunday morning. Martell, who identified as transsexual, was in her car at the corner of Franklin and 13th Streets in Oakland’s city center when she was shot repeatedly through the window and side door. Hers was one of three murders in the city that night.
While some news outlets are reporting that the murder was the result of a botched robbery, Martell’s friends believe she may have been the victim of a hate crime. Another transgender woman and friend of Martell’s—who wants to keep her identity private—was in the back seat of the car. According to this witness, she, Martell and two other transgender women had been socializing in the parked vehicle for several hours. Around 3 am, two men approached the car and chatted with the women briefly, the witness said. Martell and the other women told the men they were transgendered, and after a seemingly cordial conversation, the men walked off, said the witness.
Two hours later, the men reappeared, and one of them stuck the barrel of an automatic weapon into the crack of Martell’s window, according to the witness. According to her, the man shot Martell in the side, and the other women fled as Martell tried to drive away. Martell made it only as far as the intersection before her wounds stopped her. The gunman fired multiple shots into the car, two of which struck Martell, the witness said. The shooter and the other man got away on foot. The other women in the car had been taken away by the police to give their witness statements by the time the ambulance arrived, the witness said.
The Oakland Police Department did not return phone calls regarding this case, and has not released any public statements or press releases.