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Trans woman says she was attacked by her coworker at construction job in Northwest DC

Jose Barillas says the young man attempted to stab her and told her "Let me kill you" as he choked her.

WASHINGTON — A trans woman says she was attacked while working at a construction site in Northwest D.C. 

The incident happened on Friday, Aug. 5, on the 2100 block of Massachusetts Avenue Northwest.

Jose Barillas says she was discarding metal on the third floor of the building when she was approached by one of her coworkers. She told WUSA9 in Spanish that she noticed he was hiding his right hand behind his back as he got closer. 

"What do you have back there? I suspected something was off when he had his hand hidden. When I asked him that, that's when he jumped on me."

Barilla says they tussled on the ground, and she was able to escape several times until she was cornered in an area. She says the young man grabbed her from the hair and threw her to the floor.

"In his right hand he had the knife, and with his left he was choking me. With my left hand I was holding his hand with the knife. He was trying to stab me in the leg and stomach, but I was able to take the knife away from him."

Barilla's left hand was severely injured, she was also nicked above her right eye, and had smaller cuts on her right hand. She says her coworker was using so much force that the blade of the knife broke off the handle. 

"If I wouldn't have put my hands up he would have taken my life," Barilla said.

The trans woman from Guatemala says she believes her gender identity was the motive for the attack. She claims that her coworker told her that he wanted to kill her. 

RELATED: Police release photos of suspects in Northwest DC hate crime investigation

DC EMS first responders called DC police about the incident. 

Bryan Flores was arrested later that day. The 19-year-old is facing charges for assault and attempted possession of prohibited weapon. He was released from police custody and a stay away order has been imposed against him.

Court documents indicate that Flores admitted to officers that he used the knife against Jose, but that it had been for an alleged sexual assault. Barilla denies those allegations. She says the only physical contact she had with him was when she hit him in the groin when he was attempting to stab her. 

"If there would have been harassment or something, that doesn't mean you threaten someone's life."

Barillas says her physical wounds are slowly healing, but the emotional ones are still raw.

"I am scared because I feel like someone is pulling me back. I am scared. Everywhere I go, I just keep looking behind me."

She has created a GoFundMe account to help while she recovers. She is the primary provider for her family back in Guatemala. She says that when she was being choked by Flores, the thoughts of her mother and sister are what kept her fighting for her life. 

RELATED: Experts: Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric could galvanize extremists

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