In the early morning hours of Wednesday, Deshawnda Sanchez, a 21-year-old transgender woman of color, was shot to death on the porch of a stranger's home in the Chesterfield Square area of Los Angeles, according to local TV station KTLA.
Reports indicate she died while knocking frantically on the front door, shot multiple times by an unknown assailant before the house's occupant could see why the young woman — who was not a resident of the South L.A. neighborhood — was outside.
The fact that Sanchez was, according to LAPD detective Christopher Barling, "definitely … pounding on that door seeking help" has led police to suspect the she was fleeing from a robber at the time of her death. However, police told KTLA that they have not yet ruled out other possible scenarios — including that the attack could be a hate crime.
Part of Sanchez's murder was captured by a neighbor's surveillance camera, which recorded a figure pulling up to the house in a light-colored, compact car, getting out, running up to the porch, then returning to the vehicle and driving away.
Sanchez, an aspiring college student known better to loved ones as "Tata," is being mourned this week by her family — including her twin sister and 10 other siblings — who believe she may have been targeted because of her gender identity.
"I loved her so much," Sanchez's sister, Keyoceon Williams, tearfully told KTLA during a Wednesday vigil at the site of Sanchez's death. "It's just not going to be the same without her here no more."
"That's my other half," added her twin sister Deshanda Bradley. "I can't celebrate my birthday; I can't do nothing now. ... My whole heart is missing."
Sanchez's death is the latest among what the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has called an "alarming, fatal epidemic of violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming women, specifically transgender women of color, in the United States." Sanchez's case is the third murder, in addition to those of Zoraida Reyes and Aniya Parker, of a trans woman of color in Southern California this year, notes the Los Angeles Times. Around the world, reports of trans women being murdered surface every one or two days. The National LGBTQ Task Force notes that Sanchez's death marks the 12th reported trans woman of color murdered in the U.S. this year.
Community activists and allies are holding a vigil and rally at 6 p.m. Friday in memory of Sanchez, and have organized a Facebook page to share information about the rally. Participants are asked to gather at Chesterfield Square, 1800 W. Slauson Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90047.
Anyone with information related to Sanchez's death should call the Los Angeles Police Department's Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341.
Watch the KTLA report below to learn more, then see the surveillance footage of the suspect's car in the second clip.