A transgender woman was shot and killed in Portland, Ore., Monday night, and a suspect has been charged with her murder.
The victim, 28-year-old Gigi Pierce, was killed in the city’s downtown area late Monday, but not identified as transgender until the following day, The Portland Mercury reports. Police said she was from Boise, Idaho, and it wasn’t clear how long she had been in Portland. She was lying wounded on a sidewalk, and first responders attempted to treat her, but she died within minutes, reports local TV station KATU.
At the scene, police arrested Sophia Grace Adler, 33, and later booked her into the Multnomah County Jail on a murder charge. Adler’s last known address was an emergency shelter for women near the crime scene, The Oregonian reports. She pleaded not guilty Tuesday, according to KATU.
A fight reportedly preceded the shooting. “I heard Gigi say, ‘Don’t touch me,’” a woman identified as Amber, a friend of Pierce’s, told the station. “And the woman came up and hit Gigi in the face with her purse. That kinda set Gigi off. Gigi went to hit her, pulled back to hit her, and the next thing I know my ear’s ringing. There had been a gunshot. It all happened so fast. It always does. It all happened so fast.” Pierce, Amber said, “died in my arms.”
Police gave a similar account. “We do believe that prior to the shooting there had been some type of disagreement or disturbance that was going on that led up to the shooting,” Sgt. Christ Burley of the Portland Police Bureau told KATU.
Josie Deleon-Summa, who said she knew both Pierce and Adler, remembered Pierce as someone “full of life, always trying to help somebody,” the TV station reports. Deleon-Summa also said Adler was “a good kid,” but “something happened … to make her snap.”
The Q Center, Portland’s LGBT community center, is planning a response to Pierce’s death, executive director Oscar Guerra-Vera told the Mercury.
Pierce is the 11th known transgender homicide victim in the U.S. this year. Most have been women of color. The total number is likely much higher, given that some are misgendered by police or media, and some homicides not reported at all.
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