A witness said Monday that the 47-year-old man who was fatally stabbed while standing outside a Minneapolis bar ignited the deadly melee with a gay-bashing comment directed at the defendant, who is being charged as a man but is undergoing gender transition.

Chrishaun R. McDonald, 23, of Minneapolis, was charged last week with second-degree murder in the stabbing of Dean Schmitz, of Richfield, outside the Schooner Tavern in the Longfellow neighborhood.

McDonald was among a group of people that encountered Schmitz and other bar patrons shortly after midnight on June 5 in a clash that started with Schmitz making a remark that police have declined to characterize, according to the charges. McDonald told police that Schmitz came after him and ran into a pair of scissors that McDonald was holding, the complaint added.

Latavia Taylor, McDonald's roommate, who was among the group that night, said in an interview Monday that among Schmitz's remarks was " 'Did you think you were going to rape somebody in those girl clothes?' "

Taylor added that Schmitz and the others also directed racial epithets at the group.

Police said Monday that they would neither confirm nor deny the accounts of the fight from Taylor. Calls and e-mail messages were left for several of Schmitz's family members.

McDonald remains in jail in lieu of $150,000 bail. Because of his gender transition status, McDonald is being held in isolation for his own safety, said Tony Dulski, who looks after McDonald's finances as a trustee and has visited him in jail.

Dulski said that McDonald is a man who is "in the process of becoming female," receiving hormone treatment while living as a woman.

As a trustee and counselor, Dulski said, he helps McDonald handle his finances. McDonald, who attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College this past spring semester, receives Social Security disability payments because of emotional and mental difficulties tied to gender identity, Dulski added.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482