Friends say Omaha trans woman was ‘left for dead’ after attack

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — A prominent Omaha woman was hospitalized Monday after what friends are calling a brutal attack that left her unable to move.

The police report lists it as a robbery and little information, but mentions “possible assault” and “possible fall”. It lists the robbery, the suspect, and a hate/bias status code meaning “unknown”. It stated that she had extensive injuries to her neck and spine, and her mobile phone and keys were missing. Police said no further information is available as the investigation continues.

A friend adds in an online post that Karma’s car was stolen but later found. It is also reported that the man was seen in her apartment before the arrival of the police. They said Karma was “left to die in a pile of snow in the backyard of her downtown job.”

“I think there was a deeper motivation (than the robbery),” friend Eli Rigatuso said. Karma is a transgender woman. “I think … as a trans woman, especially a trans woman of color, walking around the world today is a huge risk … Black, brown, trans women are killed most often across the country.”

According to Rigatuso, Karma shows progress in her recovery. She said that she can now speak after the device was removed.

“We’re seeing some positive signs when it comes to how she can feel and move,” she said. “Time will show.”

According to Rigatuso, Karma, also known as Alei Bustillos, is a musician, fashion designer, and drag queen. He said he met Karma Lilola in 2015 when Eli came out as transgender. “Lilola” comes from the first two letters of the words “live”, “laughter” and “love,” Rigatuso said.

“Her reach is so far,” Rigatuso said. “There are so many people who adore her… If you’ve never heard of Karma Lilola, you’re living under a rock.”

Rigatuso, a member of Major Omaha’s LGBTQ Advisory Council Jean Stothert, is pushing for quick action. She contacted a representative of the department of LGBTQ issues.

“I don’t want it to sound like there isn’t much work left to do with how our community is treated when it comes to the violence being done against us,” she said. “But I feel better about what’s going on in regards to the Karma case, thanks to the relationship we’ve built.”

Friends will hold a postcard writing event. Rigatuso asks to contact everyone.

Rigatuso is encouraged by the community’s response, including words of encouragement and direct family support.

“The way people came together to defend her interests really amazed me,” he said. “It gives me hope that this time, when our rights and our dignity are at stake.”


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