Atlanta police have obtained warrants for the arrest of a suspect in the death of transgender woman Ashley Burton, who was fatally shot April 11 at her apartment complex in the city.
Darius Mills, 31, will be charged with murder, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, local media report. The warrants were issued Monday. Mills is currently in Fulton County Jail in Atlanta after being arrested for an unrelated crime.
Burton, 37, was a hairstylist and makeup artist in Atlanta. Her body was found in the breezeway of her apartment building. Police believe that after she was shot, she was knocking on doors for help before finally collapsing, Atlanta’s Fox affiliate reports. Investigators haven’t said if they’ve determined a motive in the crime, including whether it was related to her gender identity.
Burton’s loved ones remember her fondly. “Ashley was very loved all the way across the board, like from South Carolina [where she grew up] to Atlanta,” her brother Patrick Burton told TV station WAGA shortly after her death.
She was out and proud about her identity, he added. “The way my sibling moved in life, it was … take it or leave it. ‘This is how I am,’” he said. “You can respect it or neglect it, but Ashley put it out there and let that person know. It’s not going to be a secret.”
Atlanta police are also investigating the shootings of two other trans women. Koko Da Doll, who was featured in the Sundance Film Festival documentary Kokomo City, was shot to death in April. Another woman, whose name has not been released, was critically wounded in January but survived.
At least 11 trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people are known to have died by violence in the U.S. this year. There are likely many more, given that they may be misgendered or deadnamed by police or media, or their deaths not reported at all. The majority of victims in any given year have been women of color.