A trans woman who was murdered in a Washington DC borough has been identified by police.
Zoe Spears, 23, was shot and killed in Fairmount Heights, a Maryland suburb of Washington DC, on Thursday night (13 June).
Spears is the second trans woman to be murdered in the area in the past three 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.
While the authorities believe the two victims knew each other, they say they have not found any links between the murders.
Police have appealed for people who might have information on the murder to contact the authorities, NBC News reports.
‘Look out for each other’
Police held a press briefing to discuss Spears’ murder on Friday (15 June).
Prince George’s County Police Major Brian Reilly said the shooting took place close to the 600 block of Eastern Avenue, a diagonal boundary road on the border of Washington and Maryland.
‘If anyone was in that area last night between the hours of about 10 at night to about midnight, we are asking the public’s help in letting us know if they saw anything suspicious to please reach out to us at 1-800-411-TIPS,’ Reilly said.
Reily said that Carmon and Spears knew each other. The two were part of a ‘tight-knit’ group of sex workers who operate along Eastern Avenue, he said.
Reilly added that investigations were ongoing as to whether the murders were in any way related. He declined to comment on speculation that Spears may have witnessed Carmon’s murder.
‘At this point in the investigation, there is no direct link that we see at this point, but that is obviously something we are monitoring very closely to see if there are any links,’ Reilly said.
‘It’s unusual that we had two murders like this within a couple of blocks of each other,’ he added. ‘What we will say to the community out there: Look out for each other.’
‘She was my daughter’
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBTI rights group, released a statement saying they were ‘deeply saddened’ by the news of Spears death.
Trans rights advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Washington DC-based LGBTI community center Casa Ruby, also expressed her remorse at Spears death.
‘She was my daughter – very bright and very full of life,’ Corado told HRC.
‘Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.’
Corado also released a video on Facebook discussing the murder of Spears.
‘It hurts,’ Corado said in the video. ‘I want to make sure that people see what happens when our people are gone.
‘I want you to see that this is real consequences, that when these people get killed […] they had somebody that loved them.’
Spike in violence
Spears’ murder is the latest in a series of trans murders to take place across the US.
HRC reports that this is the tenth instance of deadly violence being used against trans people in the US in 2019. All of the trans women murdered this year were black.
The past two years have seen record levels of violence against trans women in the US.
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, HRC 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.