On Thursday (April 15), police in Charlotte, North Carolina sent out a “critical” warning after two transgender women were found shot dead in hotel rooms less than two weeks apart.
During a press conference, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesperson Rob Tufano asked the community to be “vigilant” while investigations into the killings are conducted.
One of the women was killed on Thursday morning (April 15), Tufano said at the conference, though he did not share the identity of the woman, because next of kin had not been notified of her death.
Police found the body of twenty-nine-year-old Jaida Peterson, a Black transgender woman, on April 4 in a hotel room. Peterson was also shot. According to a report by The Charlotte Observer, dozens of people attended a vigil for Peterson organized by local Black transgender activists last week.
“My heart is breaking,” Peterson’s mother said.
While Tufano said it is “premature” to connect the killings, he did say that the two deaths are “consistent enough” to authorities’ attention, “and it needs to get the attention of the community,” he added. Tufano gave a dire warning to the Charlotte area, particularly to the LGBTQIIA+ community.
According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Peterson is at least the 14th transgender or gender non-conforming person to be killed since the start of the year.
Most of the victims have been Black transgender women.
"We need everyone to speak up, affirm that Black Trans Lives Matter and take action now in order to end this violence," Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a statement to HuffPost. Jaida had family, friends, and a community who cared about her and loved her, and our hearts go out to them."
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