Arts Desk

Gaurav Gopalan’s Death Ruled a Homicide

A memorial to Gaurav Gopalan on the 2600 block of 11th Street NW, where his body was found.

The death of Gaurav Gopalan, a Washington aerospace engineer and theatermaker, has been ruled a homicide by the D.C. medical examiner.

Gopalan, who was found unconscious near his Columbia Heights home in the early hours of Sept. 10, died after suffering sub-arachnoid hemorrhage—bleeding in the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it—"due to blunt-impact head trauma," according to Beverly Fields, chief of staff of the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. "The manner of death is homicide."

The news comes in the wake of initial confusion about the case, and amid a string of shootings involving transgender women in the District. (Gopalan was wearing women's clothes when he was found by a passerby on the 2600 block of 11th Street NW.)

Early rumors suggested a homicide investigation, and in the context of the other assaults, D.C. gay activists feared a hate crime. Within days, though, Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham had told reporters that preliminary autopsy findings in Gopalan's case showed no signs of trauma or external injuries, and that the cause and manner of death would remain undetermined pending toxicology reports.

A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson was not immediately able to provide further information about the investigation, which remains open.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  1. #1

    I miss our "FACEBOOK INSOMNIA CLUB" and wonderful discussions. This is a tragedy, but should not insight anger. No matter what, I know Guarav is somewhere being peaceful, gentle, and loving in his new space. You are incredible, Guarav. Now and forever.
    "No matter the obstacle, you just say,"Fuck it, I love this honor of burden, and I will overcome.' Then you do it." - Gaurav Gopalan, on playing Hanuman in "The Ramayana".

  2. #2

    This is so sad, so tragic. How can anyone be so inhuman and heartless, and kill someone because s/he is just different? This goes beyond imagination. All my thoughts go to him and all the other victims of hate crime.

  3. #3

    I am disturbed at the amount of vengeful and anger "calls to action" that I am reading on Facebook regarding that death of Guarav. If you knew him, you should be aware that he would certainly love a candlelight vigil celebrating our friend's life, versus a massive torch-lit man-hunt. Remember him as he wished you knew him.

  4. #4

    My 20year old son Henry D. Kelly was murderd on March 5, 2011 in SE DC, today his murder is still UNSOLVED. Team Henry will be having a Justice for Henry Walk on October 1, 2011. We will be handing out fliers in the community trying to get people in the community to speak up about Henry's murder. This is very sad to me that someone could take a persons life without any care.
    visit or email

  5. #5

    I didn't know GG well - in fact, scarcely at all. My one encounter with him, though, displayed a gently merry spirit - a graceful man. I'm with Joe on this one. Leaping to conclusions, giving in to our anger, just won't do.

    I do think it's important that ME's office account for the painful confusion of the past ten days or so, but they'll need time to do that.

    Meanwhile - the only way to mark this death is to love one another.

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