Four transgender people were killed in the same week in April, bringing the total number of trans murders in the month to seven.
The total number of transgender deaths in 2020 was 44, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Black trans woman Tiara Banks was sitting alone in her car in the evening of April 21 when someone shot her several times in Chicago, according to The Advocate. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Losing yet another member of our community to senseless acts of violence against transgender people, particularly Black transgender women, is both painful and incredibly frustrating,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “At just 24 years old, Tiara had her whole entire life ahead of her and, instead, we are remembering her because of the ongoing fatal violence against transgender people. We must continue to urge everyone to call an end to the alarming rate of fatal trans violence.”
The police are investigating whether Banks’ gender identity was a factor in her death, WGN reported. Another fatal shooting had occurred about half an hour earlier near where Banks was killed.
Kim Fountain, chief administrative officer at the Center on Halsted, told WGN that three trans women have been killed in Chicago in the past four months.
Over 100 people attended a vigil at San Jose City Hall to mourn the death of Afro-Rican trans woman Natalia Smüt Lopez, who was a drag queen.
“My sister was amazing. She was the strongest, most beautiful, and courageous person I know, and now we all have to live without that light in the world,” Smüt’s sister, Vanessa Singh, told Mercury News.
Smüt, 24, was killed April 23 at a Milpitas home in California. Elijah Cruz Segura, 22, was charged with her murder. He did not enter a plea to the charge with a weapon enhancement for his reported use of a knife, according to Mercury News.
“I want to see that justice served and that Elijah spends the rest of his life in jail,” Singh told Mercury News. “But there will never be enough justice for me because my sister is gone.”
Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise said that Segura was bloody when he met with police officers after he called them and led them to a second-floor unit where they found a gravely injured Smüt, who died from her wounds at a local hospital, Mercury News reported.
Since Segura and Smüt were dating at the time, the police said that it could have been a case of domestic violence, but a precise motive has not been publicly disclosed.
Smüt was known for her “motivating and creative spirit, captivating performances, and her love for advocacy within the community,” according to a blog post shared by advocacy organization Project More. Fans admired her courage for sharing her life experiences to support other transgender people.
Nathan Svoboda, president of the Project More Foundation, said April 24 that Smüt was a “jewel in our community” and that in honor of her and the other transgender victims of violence this year, the color of San Jose’s Qmunity District lights would be changed to those of the trans flag for 16 days, according to Mercury News.
Iris Santos, a 22-year-old Latinx trans woman, was killed in Houston, Texas also April 23. ABC 13 reported that Santos was sitting at a picnic table at a Chick-fil-A when someone reportedly walked up and started shooting and killed her.
The police stated they do not know if she was targeted or if the shooting was random.
"She was a beautiful soul," Santos’ mother, Maria Carreon, said. "She was a wonderful person. She [was] always trying to help people, and even when she doesn't have nothing, she always gives."
Authorities released a surveillance video that shows the person in question running into a nearby apartment complex after the shooting.
Tiffany Thomas, 38, was found shot to death April 24 at a car wash in Dallas, Texas.
According to police reports, they found Tomas with a gunshot wound on the ground and notified the Dallas Fire and Rescue. They pronounced her dead at the scene.
At least three other trans people were murdered in April: Remy Fennell, Jaida Peterson and Dominique Lucious, who were all killed in a span of two weeks.