A man from Baltimore has been charged with the murder of a trans woman in Washington DC.
Gerardo Thomas, 33, has been chared with the first and second degree murder of Zoe Spears, Prince George’s County police announced on Thursday (18 July).
Spears was found unresponsive at around midnight on 13 June in the Fairmount Heights area after having been shot. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
Police say that surveillance footage recorded the shooting images of the suspect’s van, which led them to arrest the suspect.
Thomas is also facing assault and weapons offences, the Baltimore Sun reports.
He has no attorney listed in court records, is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on the charges 19 August.
Second trans murder in the area
The authorities believe that Spears was shot close to the 600 block of Eastern Avenue, a diagonal boundary road on the border of Washington and Maryland.
Spears was the second trans woman to have been murdered in the area within the space of two months.
Her murder took place in about four blocks away from where Ashanti Carmon was murdered on 30 March.
Police are still investigating the murder of Carmon.
The police also said that Spears and Carmon knew each other. The two were believed to be part of a ‘tight-knit’ group of sex workers who operate along Eastern Avenue.
Raising awareness of violence facing trans people in the US
The murders of Spears and Carmon provoked widespread outrage from trans rights supporters and LGBTI rights activists.
A vigil was held for the two women in Dupont Circle in Washington DC on 21 June. Members of their friends and families spoke about raising awareness of the violence and social issues facing many in America’s trans community.
The US has seen record levels of violence facing trans women over the past two years.
At least 28 trans people were murdered in the US in 2018. This followed 25 trans murders being reported in 2017.
In a 2018 report, LGBTI rights group Human Rights Campaign, found that those most commonly affected by violence were young trans women of color.
Of the trans people who were killed, 82% were trans women of color, and 64% were younger than 35, the report said.
In 2017, the FBI recorded 7,175 hate crimes in the US.
Among them, 1,130 were based on sexual orientation bias and 119 on gender identity bias. More than 100 of those victims were people of color.