Nova Scotia

Police dispute shooting victim's hate crime claim

The victim of a shooting in Halifax says she was targeted because she's transgendered, but police doubt it was a hate crime.

WARNING: Graphic language

Chris Cochrane, known as Elle Noir, is recovering from a gunshot wound after an attack in her Halifax apartment. (CBC)

The victim of a shooting in Halifax says she was targeted because she's transgendered, but police doubt it was a hate crime.

Chris Cochrane, an entertainer who goes by the name Elle Noir, is recovering from a gunshot wound to her right arm.

She said her attackers yelled homophobic slurs as she was hit with gunfire at her Fairview apartment early Tuesday. She said she believes they intended to kill her.

"They were yelling, 'Tranny faggot, open the door, let us in, let us in,' which leads me to believe they knew who I was. I'm in a second-floor apartment. You know, you have to have a security key to get into the building.

"Obviously it was 100 per cent hatred."

Halifax Regional Police interviewed Cochrane on Wednesday. After speaking with witnesses, investigators doubt her claim that the shooting was a hate crime, said a police spokesman.

"We believe this particular unit at least — while not saying this particular victim — was targeted specifically," said Const. Brian Palmeter.

"Certainly we don't believe this was a hate crime based on the information that we have so far.… There may have been other reasons at play why this might have occurred."

Palmeter refused to elaborate on what those reasons might be.

Cochrane said she's not involved with the illegal drug culture.

"Unless they were looking for estrogen, I don't think they're really going to get anything out of me," she said while waiting to leave the hospital.

"The area that I live in, yes, it might be drug infested. Yes, it might be a bad area to live in. But just because you live in a bad area it doesn't mean you are the bad person."

Man with gun

Cochrane opened her door when someone claiming to be a police officer knocked just after 1 a.m. She was surprised to see two men in dark baggy clothing — one wearing a red bandana and holding a gun.

As Cochrane and her roommate tried to slam the door shut, the attackers blasted a large hole in it with a shotgun.

"Finally, we got the door shut and we locked it. I thought it was over and I was down on the floor and then all of a sudden I felt a big whoosh and a bang and I looked up and there was a hole in the door," she said.

Cochrane looked down at her arm. The skin was completely gone and she could see the muscles and blood vessels. There was a buzzing sound in her ear.

A shot was fired through the apartment door. (CBC)

She said the culprits ran away when her roommate started to call 911.

Cochrane had surgery on Tuesday and spent the night in hospital. She said she's shaken by what happened and worried because police still haven't caught her attackers.

"What year are we in? We're in 2011, not 1964. And the violence, it was obviously shoot to kill because nine shots and then a shotgun?" she said. "They were just shooting randomly.

"I have no idea why they were so violent. I have no idea who that person was."

Palmeter said investigators are waiting to hear from forensics experts on how many shots were fired and whether two guns were used.

Neighbours told CBC News they heard four or five shots, but Palmeter will only say there were "multiple" shots.

One tenant said the building isn't safe and the smell of drugs wafts throughout the building.

Cochrane said she opened the door because there is often trouble in the neighbourhood.