A black transgender woman by the name of Zella Ziona is now the 21st transgender woman reported to have been killed in 2015 — marking the second time a black trans woman has been killed this month.
While it’s presently unclear whether or not the 21-year-old’s death in Montgomery Village, Maryland was the result of a hate crime, Montgomery County police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks told NBC Washington that they’re “not ruling out the possibility” just yet.
We are not ruling out the possibility that this could be hate-based
Captain Starks told The Guardian that the attack “is not random,” which Gawker reports may suggest that the authorities will investigate the killing as a hate crime.
The Advocate reports that the authorities have made an arrest on connection with the woman’s death, as 20-year-old Germantown residence Hector Leblond has been charged in connection with Ziona’s killing — a killing which Rock Clarkson, an individual who was in the area during the shooting, referred to as “senseless” and “tragic.”
Ziona, after having been shot in the head, was discovered in an alleyway. After having been discovered, she was transported to a hospital where she eventually died.
The incident took place on Thursday night.
WJLA reports that four to five gunshots rang out following an argument between the recently deceased and a group of teenagers, according to a witness.
The witness, whose name was not released as per request, told WJLA that the two parties “argued,” but he doesn’t know what they were arguing about.
They argued and things happened so fast (…) I don’t know what they argued for.
Of the 21 transgender woman killed this year, at least 17 have been women of color.
Ziona’s loved ones attended a Friday remembrance in the alley in which she was found. The Huffington Post reports that there were those in attendance with candles.
Barbie Johnson told NBC Washington that Ziona was “amazing” and when she’s around, “there’s not a single frown in the room.”