Fresno police Thursday said they are still trying to identify who killed Imer Eliu Alvarado, gunned down in an alley early Wednesday morning in southeast Fresno. But whether Alvarado was a transgender woman, as police said he appeared to be, has generated debate in the transgender community.
Alvarado, 34, who the Fresno County Sheriff’s Coroner identified as a male but the Fresno Police Department reported was dressed as a woman at the time of the murder, was shot multiple times on North Fourth Street near East Belmont Avenue just before 3 a.m. Police Chief Jerry Dyer Wednesday said the circumstances of the killing meant that a hate crime could not be ruled out as a motive.
Lt. David Madrigal of the police department’s Street Violence Bureau said detectives continue to follow up the case and are going over video physical evidence, “but do not have a lead on a suspect.”
Bar owner Jeff Hough, who owns the Alibi bar, about one-half mile east of the Belmont murder scene, said Alvarado was a regular customer. On his Facebook page, Alvarado commented that he was “drinking adult beverages” at the bar the day before he was slain.
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Hough said Alvarado was not transgender.
“He was a very nice young man,” Hough added.
“I think he was experimenting with (being transgender),” Hough said of Alvarado.
Hough said he only saw Alvarado dressed as a woman one time.
“He came in drag one time, but the rest of the time he was a boy. I had no issues with him (as a customer).”
Hough added: “He looked like a boy when he was dressed up in drag.”
Hough said Alvarado was hard of hearing and he wondered if that could have been a factor in the slaying.
“A very nice kid, I cannot say it enough,” Hough added. “It’s very sad.”
Alvarado’s gender status at the time of the murder prompted a measure of debate in the transgender community, with Elizabeth Marie Rivera, who identified herself as a “Trans Activist out of New York City,” writing The Bee to say that “Imer was dressed in drag during this unfortunate and tragic incident.” Rivera said that by checking Alvarado’s Facebook page, “I have been able to confirm that Imer is a Cisgender Gay male.
“I am disappointed that once again the media isn’t doing a good enough job to report factual information.”
Another member of the transgender community, Zoyer Zyndel, co-chair of Trans-E-Motion, a support, education and advocacy group for transgender people in Fresno, said:
“Clearly this person is a member of the LGBT community. The real issue is they were gunned down.
“We intend to follow this case and make sure there is some accountability on the part of the perpetrator.”
As for defining gender of the victim, Zyndel said: “If you don’t know, say you don’t know.”