A transgender teenager in Oregon has died after having been kidnapped and shot, and a suspect is now charged with murder.
Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, a 17-year-old trans boy, was abducted May 12 in the town of Gervais, The Oregonian reports. Police say that Kenneth William Peden III, 20, drove away in a pickup truck with Taylor, leading to a chase by law enforcement. Police pursued Peden through another town, Silverton, and into the country, and exchanged gunshots with him.
When Peden finally gave himself up, police found Taylor in the truck’s front passenger seat, and the youth had suffered “a life-threatening gunshot wound,” according to The Oregonian. The bullet that struck him had not been fired by the officers pursuing the vehicle, police said. Taylor was taken to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where he died last Wednesday.
Taylor was involved in several activities at Gervais High School, including the track team and Future Farmers of America. His family remembered him on social media as “an amazing child with a quirky sense of humor, who impacted so many people.”
Peden was charged Thursday with murder, the Marion County District Attorney’s Office announced. It’s one of nine charges against him, including five counts of attempted murder. Arik Reed, 22, was shot in the abdomen while trying to prevent the abduction, and he is now recovering.
Taylor is at least the 26th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year. The nation saw a record number of such deaths reported, 44, in 2020, and 2021 is on track to exceed that. The actual number for any year is likely larger, given that many victims are misgendered by media and police, or their deaths not reported at all.
“We continue to receive reports of transgender and nonbinary people who have been killed so far this year, and the level of violence that we’re seeing is horrible and unacceptable,” said a statement from Tori Cooper, the Human Rights Campaign’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative. “Oliver was just at the beginning of his life, a life that never should have been cut short. This is a tragic loss for Oliver’s friends, family and community. This violence must cease.”