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A Los Angeles transgender woman died in a fire of suspicious origin in Los Angeles this week, friends and activists are reporting.
Police have yet to release the name of the person who died in the fire at a multifamily home early Wednesday morning in south L.A., but trans activist Bamby Salcedo and friends of the deceased say they are sure it is trans woman Viccky Gutierrez, the Los Angeles Blade reports.
If the person is indeed Gutierrez and her death is ruled a homicide, she would be the second trans murder victim in the U.S. this year.
Salcedo announced Gutierrez's death on her Facebook page. A memorial vigil is scheduled for 7 tonight, and Salcedo has set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for funeral expenses. Gutierrez was an immigrant from Honduras and had no family in the U.S., according to crowdfunding page, which describes her as "a beautiful soul who was really nice to everyone and would offer any type of support when someone would need it."
The Los Angeles Police Department classified the death as suspicious, the Blade reports. The fire was confined to one second-floor unit and the attic of the 116-year-old building, and other occupants escaped unharmed. Arson investigators are continuing to look into the matter. "This is a high-priority case for us," LAPD Det. Sharon Kim told the Blade.
A total of 27 transgender people were reported murdered in the U.S. in 2017, so the year matched 2016 as the deadliest on record for trans Americans. The total for any given year is likely much higher, as some trans people are misgendered in death, or their deaths not reported at all.