Friends & Family Grieve; Police Play Down Lesbian Couple’s Death as a Hate Crime
Authorities from Portland, Texas, say that there is no evidence that the shooting of two lesbian teens was a hate crime, Caller.com reported.
Last weekend, Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and her girlfriend Mary Christine Chapa, 18, were shot in a local park. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene and Chapa was rushed to the hospital for a gunshot wound to the head. She has been listed in stable condition and as of Tuesday police are still waiting to talk with her.
After the story made national headlines, many suspected that the girls were targeted because of their sexual orientation. But Portland Police Chief Randy Wright says there is no evidence that the shooting had to do with their relationship.
"There’s no evidence to suggest that this crime was committed as a bias against the girls or their lifestyle," Wright said.
Olgin, a student at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and Chapa were found lying in Violet Andrews Park Saturday morning.
Earlier this week, Wright would not say if the girls were gunned down because they are lesbians. "That’s always something that we’re looking for, but as of this point, we have not been able to establish that that had anything to do with the attack," he said.
The police officer also stated it was not confirmed if the girls were in a relationship even though friends said they had been together for five months. "At best, we know they were really good friends. Some of their friends have stated that they were in a relationship," he told CNN.
"If we had a name, you know, we’d be having a different conversation right now. But we have not been able to gather enough information to identify a suspect yet," Wright told MSNBC.com. "It appears as if ... this was not just a random attack but that’s something that we really have to develop over time."
The Human Rights campaign and Equality Texas, and LGBT organization based in the state, issued a joint statement and said that the groups have reached out to local authorities, the Department of Justice and the FBI.
"Regardless of the motivation behind this tragedy, we must send a strong message that violence against anyone is never acceptable. We have reached out to law enforcement officials at both the federal and local level, and hope to see a thorough investigation. These women, and all victims of violent crimes, deserve nothing less," the statement says.
The MSNBC story interviewed friends and family of the teens, who expressed their shock on learning of the tragic event. Several individuals have left gifts, such as rainbow ribbons, letters, flowers and other items at a memorial that was setup in the park where the couple was found.
"It’s something that I think all of us are going to carry with us for a while," Frank Reyna, a friend of the teens, told the news site. "It’s going to take a while to get past this, the idea that there is somebody still out there that did this to these two amazing, beautiful people, and that they’re walking free right now."
Reyna, 19, said he met Olgin his sophomore year of high school and that he grew up with Chapa. The the last time he saw the teens was in May in a coffee shop and it was the first time he saw them together as a couple.
"I’m glad that that was the last time that I saw Mollie in person, that that’s the memory that I can live with for the rest of my life, knowing that I saw her happy," he said. Renya also added that their relationship was accepted among their friends.
"We focused on their personalities and how they got along with everybody else ... their kindheartedness and their ability to just make other people smile and make each other smile," he said. "We didn’t care ... what they were, it’s who they were."
Olgin’s close friend, Chandler Nunez, said that he was shocked by the crime. "I cannot imagine anyone who would want to hurt such a loving and caring person," she wrote to MSNBC.com. "This was incredibly unexpected and the lack of answers makes this tragedy all the more frustrating."
Olgin’s sister, Megan, expressed her grief on her sister’s Facebook page. "You were taken too soon. I love you and always will," she wrote. "You’re my guardian angel. I love you little sister. Forever and always ♥"