Chae’Meshia Simms, a Black transgender woman in Richmond, Virginia, has become the 39th trans person to be killed in 2020. Simms was pronounced dead at the scene on Monday after being found in a car that had crashed into a garage in an alley, NBC 12 reported.
Although police said Simms suffered from a gunshot wound, the medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of death. Investigators haven't identified a motive either or classified the death as a hate crime.
It is heartbreaking to learn of another sibling lost to violence: Chae'Meshia Simms, in Richmond on 11/23.
Chae'Meshia ("ChaeChae") is remembered by her loved ones as "good," "kind," "caring," and "one of [their] biggest supporters."
She loved her friends, family, & community. pic.twitter.com/Vv8fUOyekS— Trans Empowerment Project (@trans_empowered) November 26, 2020
Providing one of the few details in the case, police said a man was seen leaving the area on foot after the shooting. Investigators also said the incident may have occurred between 5 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. Residents are asked to check their surveillance cameras and report any suspicious activity occurring around that time.
“We are mourning Chae’Meshia along with her friends and family. Although I did not know Chae’Meshia personally, she was from my hometown, and her death impacts the trans and gender non-conforming community everywhere,” Cooper said. “We are continuing to see a devastating rate of violence against trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, especially against Black and Brown trans women."
According to CBS 6, Simms' family said their loved one was shot to death inside her mom’s rental car while driving home. The grieving family remembers their loved one as somebody who liked to joke around.
Zakia McKensey, executive director of Nationz Foundation, a local organization advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, said the ongoing violence against trans individuals must stop.
“The transgender community is heavy, we are saddened, and we are also furious because every week there is a trans woman who is murdered across this country and it really needs to stop,” McKensey told NBC 12.
The deadly year has been especially tragic in recent days as violence continues to devastate the trans community. Earlier this week, a 22-year-old Black woman named Asia Foster became the 38th transgender person to be violently killed this year. According to news publication Them, Foster was found dead on Skyline Drive in Houston after an unidentified man alerted police.
Skylar Heath, a 20-year-old Black transgender woman in Miami, was also killed this week, but her death hasn't been reported by the media or police, according to the HRC. Heath's friends, however, believe she died after being shot.
Earlier this week, the LGBTQ+ communities commemorated Trans Day of Remembrance. The annual tradition, created by trans advocate Gwendolyn Smith, honors trans people killed by violence.
Anyone with information in the case of Simms is asked to call Major Crimes Detective M. Godwin at (804) 646-5533 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.