Police are investigating the murder of a transgender woman and her friend.
Shante Isaac -- identified by local TV station KTRK by a male name -- and friend Willie Sims died of multiple wounds Sunday night at a Houston residence.
Isaac, a transgender woman known as Shante to friends, was on the phone with mother Leola Thompson just before the attack. The victims, both 34, were discovered around 11:15 p.m.
"He said, 'I'll call you right back, I'll call you right back,'" Thompson told KTRK.
The murder weapon was initially believed to be a gun. However, police, after arriving on the scene, are now investigating what may have caused the victims' multiple wounds.
"The boy that was trying to protect my brother got shot, and my brother got hit in the head with something, like a crowbar from the car," said Isaac's sister, Jessica Thompson.
The crime, which occurred at the onset of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, sparked outcry from LGBT groups. Chuck Smith, the CEO of Equality Texas, pointed to the transphobic and homophobic fearmongering that has "engulfed" Houston in the past few years. Anti-LGBT scare tactics in local media most notably resulted in the the repeal of the pro-LGBT Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in 2015.
"The rhetoric is fueling an atmosphere of hate in Houston and Texas and across the country that is causing innocent Texans to be beaten and killed," said Smith in a statement. "This rhetoric is unacceptable and has real consequences for real Texans who are victims of hate crimes."
Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call (713) 222-TIPS.
Issac is at least the eighth known transgender person killed in the U.S. this year -- the vast majority of whom have been trans women of color. Last month, a transgender woman named Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yoachum was killed in what police believe was a domestic dispute on Los Angeles's "Skid Row," while Jasmine Sierra was found dead in January in Bakersfield, Calif. In February, 30-year-old Louisiana trans man Demarkis Stansberry was shot to death, the same month that police shot and killed 24-year-old Arizona trans man Kayden Clarke in his own home. In the span of 24 hours in late February, Philadelphia police discovered the bodies of two transgender women, including 25-year-old Maya Young and Veronica Banks Cano. Texas trans woman Monica Loera was the first known trans person killed in the U.S. this year, shot to death in her own home on January 22.