Dustin Parker is remembered by family and friends as a dedicated father, a passionate friend and community leader.

Police continue to investigate the slaying of the prominent local transgender rights advocate who was found shot to death in the taxi cab he was driving early New Year’s Day.

Dustin was 25 years old. Dustin was a husband and father of four. Dustin was a co-founder of a local chapter of Oklahomans for Equality in McAlester. Dustin was a silly dancer and karaoke enthusiast.

Washington, DC-based Human Rights Campaign says Dustin is the first known violent death of a transgender person in the US this year. The organization tracked 25 violent deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the nation last year and has called violent deaths among the community an epidemic.

Local police have said there is currently no evidence that Dustin’s gender identity had anything to do with him being killed.

A hate crime is one involving violence that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds. Although gender is relevant in determining a potential motivation behind this gruesome act, gender should not affect the investigation, arrest and conviction of the killer.

That process includes anyone not in law enforcement who might have seen something or knows something about the events leading up Dustin’s death. Each homicide investigation should lead to a timely — and accurate — arrest of the person responsible to bring them before the court system.

We urge anyone with knowledge of Dustin’s shooting death — just as we urge anyone with knowledge that could lead to an arrest in any homicide investigation — to contact law enforcement immediately.

Anyone with information on the fatal shooting is asked to contact the McAlester Police Department at 918-423-1212 or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s tipline at 1-800-522-8017 or by emailing tips@osbi.ok.gov.

Your anonymous tip could ultimately lead to an arrest and conviction that would both bring someone to justice and closure to the victim’s family and loved ones.

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