Vehicle Belonging To Transgender Veteran Spray Painted, Torched

Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 20:03:44-05

Burnt debris and charred tire tracks were all that was left in a Putnam County veteran's driveway, who wanted to be known only as Elle.

Around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Elle said she heard a noise outside, and when she looked, her truck was in flames.

"Directly outside while she and her son were sleeping," her friend, Robin Ridley said. 

On the back of Elle's truck were bumper stickers in support of the LGBT community.

"Elle is a transgender woman, as am I," said Ridley. 

After the fire was contained, investigators noticed new logos on her truck.

"On the back of her bed and on the front, on the hood, in red spray paint someone had painted "Trump," Ridley explained. "This is more than just an arson. This is a hate crime," she said. 

Elle served in the Army from 1999 to 2007, she moved back to Tennessee last June. While she said she's never had a problem in Cookeville, she has been a victim of assault before. 

"Really this is a matter of life and death, so when Elle was attacked, this could've been a complicating factor where she might've chosen that she's had enough," Ridley explained. 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office has been investigating. Meanwhile, Ridley has hoped to get a message out to others in the transgender community.

"Don't give up. Don't give into the fear because it's going to get better," said Ridley.