Maryland county police charged a man with first-degree murder for the shooting death of a transgender woman, the Advocate reports.

Zella Ziona, 21, was shot in the head in an alley behind a laundromat around 5:50 p.m. Thursday, according to the Guardian. A police statement says she was shot multiple times. Ziona was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital around 8:12 p.m.

"It's not random ... investigators are looking at many things," Montgomery County police captain Paul Starks told the Guardian.

An anonymous witness told local news station WJLA that he saw gunfire around the time of the killing and that Ziona was surrounded by four or five teenagers. He added there was an argument and one of the teens pulled out a gun and opened fire.

"They argued and things happened so fast. I don't know what they argued for," the witness said. He added he heard about four or five gun shots.

"They did find a victim suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head," Montgomery County Police Officer Rick Goodale told WJLA. "Detectives do not believe this was a random shooting."

Police arrested Rico Hector Leblond, 20, Friday and charged him with the murder of Ziona, according to the Advocate.

The Guardian notes Ziona was misgendered in early reports of the incident. Gawker points out, Maryland is one of just 16 states with hate crime laws that protect residents based on actual or perceived gender identity.

Ziona is the 22nd transgender or gender-nonconforming person reported to be killed this year, according the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. This is an increase compared to 2014 as the NCAVP reported there were 20 documented murders of trans or gender-nonconforming people.


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