JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The shooting death Sunday of a transgender woman at a Baymeadows area motel marks the fourth reported attack on a transgender woman in Jacksonville since February.
While the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said it has no evidence so far suggesting the attacks are linked, some people in the transgender community fear they are being targeted.
Cindy Watson, chief executive officer for Jasmyn, an advocacy group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Community, wants to make sure these cases aren't overlooked.
"We see many trans women who are African American, and I think they feel particularly targeted by these crimes," said Watson.
The Coalition for Equality has been asking on behalf of the LGBTQ community for a meeting with the Sheriff's Office to discuss the community's concerns. So far, Watson said, there has been no response.
"We just want to see them treated with the same kind of dignity and respect that any other victim of a crime would be treated with," said Watson.
Paige Mahogany Parks, a transgender activist, told News4Jax she believes the Jacksonville transgender community is in danger.
“When I walk out my door, as well as a lot of transgender girls here, we’re looking over our backs. Places we normally feel comfortable, we don’t feel comfortable going to those places anymore," Parks said. "When we walk out our door, we don’t know if we’re going to make it home safe."
Sunday's shooting is the latest in a string of four shootings with transgender victims, and the second such attack in a week:
- A 24-year-old transgender woman was found dead Sunday by officers answering a report of someone shot at the Quality Inn and Suites on Dix Ellis Trail;
- A transgender woman survived being shot multiple times June 8 on West 29th Street not far from Golfair Boulevard in Northwest Jacksonville;
- Antasha English, 38, died June 1 after she was shot near a vacant home along Ella Street in Northwest Jacksonville;
- Celine Walker, 36, was shot dead Feb. 4 at the Extended Stay America on Skinner Lake Drive, near the St. Johns Town Center.
Nationally, there have been 13 transgender killings in 2018.
So far, the Sheriff's Office has not announced arrests in any of the listed cases. Watson said she hopes the agency reaches out to the LGBTQ community in the hopes of helping them solve the crimes.
"These are real people with real lives and their lives matter," she said. "They matter to us and the people who loved them."
Anyone with information about any of these cases is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at (904) 630-0500. Those wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.