The Trans Ex-Convict Who Crashed The NSA
A picture is emerging of troubled Ricky Shawatza Hall, and she seemingly had no intention of ending up in the line of fire at America’s largest intelligence agency.
The individual who was shot at and apparently killed by federal police on Monday at the entrance to the NSA’s main campus identified as transgender and had a long history of run-ins with the law, including charges for prostitution, robbery, and assault.
Ricky Shawatza Hall of Baltimore was identified by the FBI on Tuesday as the driver of an SUV that police fired on after it refused to yield to orders from officers to stop at the entrance to Fort Meade, Maryland. U.S. officials have said that Hall and a passenger, who has been identified at Kevin Fleming and is being treated at an area hospital, were both dressed as women.
Elizabeth Julian, a Maryland public defense attorney who represented Hall on a probation violation in February, told The Daily Beast that Hall had said she was transgender and asked to be referred to using the feminine pronoun. Julian said she’d only learned hours earlier that Hall was the driver of the SUV involved in Monday’s shooting. “I think it’s just tragic,” she said.
The picture emerging of Hall, who was 27 years old, is of a troubled young person who had no intention of ending up in the line of fire of armed guards at America’s largest intelligence agency.
Hall’s fateful journey began in a run-down discount motel about eight miles from Fort Meade. A still-unidentified 60-year-old man had “picked up” Hall and Fleming in Baltimore, while they were dressed as women, and then brought them in his SUV to the Terrace Motel in Elkridge, Maryland, around 7:30 Monday morning, according to Howard County police. There, the trio “partied,” anonymous police officials have said, possibly with cocaine, which was later found in the vehicle, along with a gun. It’s not clear if the weapon belonged to the driver.
Authorities wouldn’t say whether the man had paid Hall and Fleming for sex. But Hall had been charged on three occasions with prostitution, between 2007 and 2011, court records show. She was found not guilty in each case.
A manager on duty at the motel declined to answer questions from The Daily Beast about the group and anything that went on in their room. But according to Howard County Police, Hall and Fleming left the motel in the SUV at 8:30. The owner later reported the vehicle stolen.
It didn’t take long for Hall and Fleming to make the turn into Fort Meade. The vehicle showed up at the gates “shortly before 9:00 a.m.,” in what an NSA spokesman described as an “attempted unauthorized entry.”
“The driver failed to obey an NSA police officer’s routine instructions for safely exiting the secure campus,” said Jonathan Freed, NSA’s director for Strategic Communications, an apparent sign that the officers believed Hall and Fleming had made the turn toward the base by mistake. Former officials told The Daily Beast that motorists frequently mistake the exit to Fort Meade for an ordinary off-ramp, and then find themselves face-to-face with armed police.
The scene quickly turned frantic. “The vehicle failed to stop and barriers were deployed,” Freed said. The SUV then “accelerated toward an NSA Police vehicle blocking the road. NSA police fired at the vehicle when it refused to stop. The unauthorized vehicle crashed into the NSA police vehicle.”
An NSA police officer was injured in the incident and taken to a local hospital.
Local TV news footage from the scene showed the damaged SUV and, next to it, a white sheet covering what appeared to be a body. A brown wig was lying on the ground nearby.
“There is no information being released at this time regarding motive, however FBI Baltimore does not believe this is related to terrorism,” a spokesman for the bureau’s Baltimore field office, which is leading an investigation of the incident, said Tuesday. “The men were dressed as females but not in an attempt to disguise themselves from authorities.”
Court records show that Hall had a long history of alleged violent behavior. She had been previously charged with offenses ranging from loitering to robbery to assault. In August 2013, she pleaded guilty to a robbery charge and was sentenced to three years of supervised probation. It was that probation that Hall violated earlier this year.
In 2013, Hall was charged with other serious crimes, including armed robbery, assault, and use of a deadly weapon with the intent to injure. But that case was closed before proceeding to a trial, records show.
Calls to the last address in Baltimore where records show Hall was living went unanswered Tuesday.
Julian, Hall’s former attorney, said she had no explanation for why Hall had ended up at NSA, other than having made a “wrong turn.” Julian declined to discuss the details of Hall’s earlier cases or her personal life. But, she added, “I hope now she’s found some peace.”