Police investigating whether shooting was hate crime

Published: Jul. 12, 2016 at 11:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2016 at 1:15 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Evansville Police are are trying to determine if a weekend shooting was a hate crime.

26 year-old Gerald Lewis was in court Tuesday charged with attempted murder. Lewis was arrested Monday, accused of shooting 55 year-old Crystal Cash in the head Sunday.

[Victim shot in the head in Evansville identified]

In court Tuesday, suspect Lewis said "I don't understand" when the Judge read him his constitutional rights. In the affidavit, police said Lewis was not able to understand the Miranda warning read to him Sunday.

Lewis's wife, Daisy, was also in court Tuesday. She said she's never heard of Crystal Cash before now, and that she doesn't know why they encountered each other.

Evansville Police Captain Andy Chandler said Cash is biologically a male, but identifies as a woman.

Captain Chandler said, victim Cash told police after he shot her, she "faked dead." Cash said, Lewis then shouted a homophobic slur before taking several of her personal items.

In the affidavit, Cash said Lewis was wearing an Israeli-Christian shirt. In court Tuesday, Lewis's wife confirmed that Lewis was suspended a few months ago from his membership with group "Israel United in Christ." She said she believes it's not a hate group, and said she's never heard her husband say anything derogatory or homophobic until this accusation.

An official with the Israel United in Christ group released to us this statement: "If someone was involved in a shooting that claims to be a part of our group, that is contrary to everything we teach. We do not condone violence, we only stand with law-abiding citizens."

Although Cash told police her encounter with Lewis on Sunday was completely random, according to Captain Chandler, she gave a detailed report to police of him.

"She knew his age, where he was born, where he was from - Alabama," said Captain Chandler. "She was able to give his alias, 'Gadiell Ben Israel' that he was using."

Lewis's bond is $5 million, or $500,000 cash.

Victim Crystal Cash is recovering in an area hospital.

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