Ke'Yahonna Stone, a black transgender woman, was shot in a nightclub parking lot in Indianapolis in the early hours of December 26 and died two days later on December 28 after being taken off life support.
Stone, 32, attempted to break up a fight when someone pulled out a gun and began shooting, hitting her in the head, her family told local TV station WISH.
"I feel whoever did it, they moved off of impulse. Some things you got to walk away from. It don't make you a punk or nothing to walk away," Stone's sister Latroya Rucker said. "She was breaking up a fight, trying to defuse a fight that was going on. My sister didn't have nothing to do with nothing that was going on out there."
The TV station reports that police are still investigating the shooting and are trying to figure out what happened before the gun was pulled.
Stone provided a safe space for the local trans community in her own home. Friends said her activism was only beginning to grow.
Marissa Miller, founder of the Trans Solutions Research and Resource Center, said Stone had recently been hired to work there. The center assists trans people with health and social services.
"She didn't want to be that person who was in the streets no more that everybody was talking about. She didn't want to do that no more. She was changing her life," Miller told WISH. "Ke'Yahonna was loved by the community."
In response to Stone's death, the Human Rights Campaign's director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, Tori Cooper, said, "Stone was wholeheartedly invested in helping other trans folks like herself and was about to embark on a new professional path that would have furthered her activism."
Cooper added: "We need activists like Stone. I hope this tragedy inspires others to take the helm she left behind."
In 2021, there have been a record number of fatal trans and nonbinary violent incidents since human rights groups began tracking these numbers. Stone is this year's 51st known trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming victim of fatal violence in the U.S. -- although many more likely go unreported due to misgendering and deadnaming.
Authorities are looking for information related to Stone's death. WXIN reports that anyone who may have information about this shooting can contact Detective Michael Wright at the IMPD homicide office at (317) 327-3475 or email him at Michael.Wright@Indy.Gov.