An Indiana trans woman is left unable to speak Sunday after a religious extremist shot her in the face, shattering her jaw, according to Evansville Courier.
Crystal Raquel Cash, 55, was assaulted by 26-year-old Gerald Duane Lewis, who is a self-identified member of the Israel United in Christ sect.
Lewis claims membership of the “black separatist” group on his Facebook page, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a religious/racial hate organization.
The “Black Hebrew Israelites,” a sub-sect within the black separatist movement, believe that African Americans are the real Jews, the Biblically-chosen people of God. According to the SPLC, they oppose integration and interracial marriage and are virulently anti-Semitic, anti-white and anti-LGBT – frequently expressing those views in public.
“Israel United in Christ Church finds it necessary to make it clear that Gerald Duane Lewis aka Gadiell is not [currently] a member of our organization,” the church said in a statement. “Lewis was removed from the congregation months prior due to not adhering to the stringent guidelines of our organization.”
The group provided no specifics as to why he was removed.
“As we staunchly stand alongside the Holy Bible and its tenets, Israel United does not teach or condone violence against any person,” the statement added.
Police say Lewis met Cash on the adult services website Backpage.com and reportedly attacked at her at a massage parlour she operates. Similar to Craigslist.com, Backpage provides classified adds with free advertisements however, they also feature escorts and prostitution.
Cash’s brother Johnny Dickens, argued that she actually runs a cosmetics business and that Lewis asked to use the toilet before shooting her.
“I just want to set the record straight and tell the world that my sister has come a long way from where she’s come,” Johnny said in an interview with 14 News. “She has made something of herself. She’s a professional business owner and she is not some sort of a prostitute that’s luring people into her office.”
Lewis faces preliminary charges of attempted murder, robbery and carrying a handgun, according to police.