Dominque Lucious, a 26-year-old Black transgender woman, was shot to death Thursday in Springfield, Mo.
This is at least the 13th violent death of a trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person in the U.S. this year.
Charles Nelson, 28, was arrested the same day, and he is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action, the Springfield News-Leader reports.
Lucious was killed in an apartment where she had spent the night, an occupant of the unit, identified only as S.D., told Springfield police. S.D. said that after Lucious woke him up Thursday morning to tell him she needed to freshen up to prepare for a visitor, he went back to sleep but was awakened again by gunshots. He saw Lucious lying on the couch and a man standing over her, and then the man went out to his car and drove away. S.D. took photos of the car. A neighbor identified in police reports as J.T. said he also heard the gunshots and saw the man drive away.
Police arrested Nelson that evening. They said he had sent text messages of a sexual nature to Lucious after meeting her online. He is being held without bond in the Greene County Jail.
The local community is mourning Lucious. "Trans women, particularly trans women of color, are disproportionately victims of violent crime," said a Facebook post from the GLO Center, a Springfield LGBTQ+ community center. "This murder and the other senseless slaying of trans folks must be contextualized within the anti-trans rhetoric and actions taken by too many. It is 2021 and we must understand that trans rights are human rights. Rest In Peace, Dominique Lucious."
Missouri's statewide LGBTQ+ group, PROMO, posted this on Facebook: "Transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia sit at the intersection of racism and misogyny, and fosters violence. If we are not working to end the societal violence that ended Dominique's life, we are part of the problem."
Ciara Williams, Lucious's cousin, told Springfield's KYTV it took a while for the family to adapt to Lucious's transition, but "of course they did." Williams described her cousin as strong, brave, and big-hearted.
"We grew up together," Williams said. "We have lived together numerous times. [Lucious was] more like a sibling to me. We were both homeless at a point in our lives when we were younger. She made sure I had somewhere warm to stay, even if she didn't. She had a very good heart."
"She loved herself how she was, and that's what made everybody adore her," Williams added. "If she had her red lipstick and her red nails, she didn't care what you had to say about her. And I loved that so much about her."
"The high level of violence that transgender and gender-nonconforming people continue to face is not acceptable," said a statement from Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign's Transgender Justice Initiative. "We must do more to end this violence. While details are still emerging, we've become aware that Dominique may have been killed by someone she knew. We must be able to trust those who are in our lives -- otherwise, who can we trust? We need everyone to speak up and support trans lives at every level, from family conversations to legislative debates. Only then will we be able to eradicate stigma against transgender and gender-nonconforming people, and end this violence."