Four teens have been arrested on investigation of assault and hate-crime charges after authorities say they beat a legally blind, transgender woman who had pepper-sprayed them as she exited a Metro bus in Tukwila.
According to the King County Sheriff’s Office, the woman told detectives she had an altercation with the teens at the Tukwila International Boulevard Station on Tuesday night before they all got on the bus. The teens made comments to her that she felt were threatening and derogatory, said Sgt. Ryan Abbott, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
The teens boarded the bus after the woman, Abbott said, and sat in the back while she sat in the front.
Around 10:20 p.m., the woman moved to the back of the bus to exit at South 180th Street and Andover Park West, and pepper-sprayed the four youths before getting off the bus, Abbott said.
The teens followed, Abbott said, and beat the woman, kicking and punching her and calling her derogatory names based on her gender identity.
One of the teens had a realistic-looking BB gun and another had a hatchet, but neither weapon was used in the assault, Abbott said.
The teens fled when police arrived, but all four were caught and booked into the King County youth-detention center.
Abbott noted that although using pepper spray on people solely for saying offensive things is illegal, the teens’ escalation of it to an assault that left the woman unconscious means she is unlikely to face any charges. Had the teens stayed on the bus and reported that they were pepper-spray victims, the woman would likely be facing charges, he said.
The woman was admitted to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and has been interviewed by a detective. Abbott said video-surveillance footage from the bus is not being released at this time, as it is part of the investigation.