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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