Details are still emerging as to what motivated a 26 year old temporary worker at a Rite Aid facility in Aberdeen, Md. to open fire late last week, killing three and injuring three others before turning the gun on herself. But in a move unheard of when mass shooters fit the straight, white male narrative, some mainstream media are running cover for the suspect, ignoring her transgenderism or insisting readers consider the suspect’s “struggle.”
Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler told reporters Friday that suspect Snochia Moseley showed up to work on time Thursday morning, went home on a break and returned with a 9mm Glock pistol, pepper spray, and a pair of handcuffs. The firearm had been legally purchased and was registered to Moseley but her Maryland state handgun permit expired in May. Moseley shot the first victim outside the Rite Aid warehouse where roughly 1,000 people work before hitting five others inside. She then shot herself twice, the first attempt only grazing her head, and died later in the hospital.
Police reports identified Moseley as female but in private messages shared early Friday with The Baltimore Sun, a close friend of Moseley’s revealed that she identified as a transgender man and was preparing to undergo hormone replacement therapy. Troi Coley, who had known Moseley since high school and remained in close contact, told The Sun Moseley was a quiet person who often felt alienation and that the world was against her. In messages from December 2016, Moseley told Coley, “I just started talking about [being transgender] … My sister is totally supportive, my brothers already had an idea, my mom I haven’t gotten around to admitting it to yet. but she’s heard about it somehow.” Recent photographs of Moseley show she was attempting to present a male appearance with close-cropped hair, men’s clothing, and a flat chest possibly achieved by taping her breasts down.
Co-workers say Moseley showed up to work Thursday agitated. “Normally, she was a nice person, but she came in in a bad mood,” co-worker Mike Carre told The Washington Post. “She wanted to pick a fight, and then she started shooting.”
On her own Facebook profile, Moseley described herself as, “Pretty kool, mellow type … Silly, Party, Turn up, social and sometimes quiet.” She also described herself on Facebook as “quiet” and with a “to myself type of personality.” She identified her favorite Bible verse as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
While race, sexual orientation and gender seem very important when a shooter is white, straight and male, very few outlets are reporting Moseley was transgender and others are pushing tacit sympathy for her. An unnamed source, who the Sun claims knew Moseley since elementary school, told the paper, “She did a terrible thing, but I feel for her … The first thing you think is, ‘This person is horrible,’ because you have a bias. But knowing someone, I believe everyone is human. Everyone is going through something.”
Coley also told The Sun that Moseley was “shy” and “expressed herself through writing.” The Sun dug up an account on a poetry website belonging to Moseley where four poems were published in early September, one titled “IDENTITY,” which the paper points out was tagged “Struggles in Life.” The New York Times, which did not mention that Moseley was transgender, reports that Moseley was “diagnosed with a mental illness” in 2016. Coley’s statements about Moseley have been republished across multiple national news outlets, emphasizing that Moseley, “wasn’t a monster, wasn’t an angry person … I just believe this was emotional distress. If she did this, it was her last straw,” as Coley told The Sun.
In a report from Friday, The Washington Post didn’t mention Moseley was transgender until 16 paragraphs into the story, writing, “[Coley] said Moseley suffered from bipolar disorder and struggled since early in high school with severe depression, partly connected to her feelings of not being accepted when she first came out as a gay teenage girl and later as transgender.” Coley told The Post Moseley got on hormone therapy a year ago and planned to have sex-reassignment surgery. The Post quotes Coley as saying, “Since then, she has been going through a terrible time … She had just gone through this change, the hormone therapy, and struggling to find her way, but she couldn’t in the end.”
“Coley said that during periods when Moseley was undergoing intensive mental health treatment, she had brighter moments and enjoyed writing rap lyrics. She said Moseley wrote an unpublished manuscript about coming out as transgender, titled “No Swagger.” In it, Moseley detailed the pain of struggling to accept her sexual orientation and being rejected by others, including some family members,” The Post writes.
The victims have been identified as Sunday Aguda, 45; Brindra Giri, 41; and Hayleen Reyes, 41. The surviving victims were identified as Hassan Mitchell, 19; Wilfredo Villegas, 45; and Acharya Purna, 45.
Chadwick Moore is a journalist and political commentator, currently working on his first book. He tweets at @Chadwick_Moore.
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