Police in Texas have arrested the man they say yelled homophobic slurs before shooting and killing a queer woman in a parking lot over the weekend, and the victim’s father and partner believe her murder had the hallmarks of a hate crime.
Akira Ross, 24, was gunned down outside a Circle K gas station in Cedar Park on the evening of Friday, June 2. Police said they were called to the scene at 9:50 p.m. where they found Ross dead of a gunshot wound. Witnesses said a man started yelling homophobic slurs at Ross and the two exchanged words before the alleged assailant pulled a gun, shot her three times, and then fled the scene in his car. On Tuesday, authorities in Ingleside arrested Bradley Stanford, 23, and charged him with a single count of first-degree felony murder of Ross.
Ross’s girlfriend, identified only as Tanya, told the Austin American-Statesman she, Ross, and a third friend had stopped at the gas station following a workout.
Tanya said the alleged killer yelled unprovoked slurs at her and Ross as they entered the store. Once inside, Tanya said they got a text from their friend, who had stayed in the car, saying the man was now waving a gun. While Ross went out to pump gas, Tanya said she was calling 911 while also trying to film the encounter with her cell phone. She said she saw the man attempt to shake Ross’s hand just before he shot her.
“I was recording everything I saw before my own eyes and then I heard gunshots,” Tanya said.
Ross's father, Anthony Hill told the paper, "It was a hate crime."
“She didn't know him,” Hill said. “She gets out of the car, and he starts calling her gay slurs for no reason.”
Hill said the murder was senseless and will hit hard at home, as the hip-hop-musician hopeful was also a full-time caregiver for her elderly grandmother. He also said his daughter coped with the death of her own mother 2.5 years ago by starting an organization to help children deal with their own loss of a family member.
Police provided little information on a possible motive for the slaying. In its statement, police claimed there was a “verbal exchange between Stanford and Ross in the parking lot outside her car before Stanford fatally shot Ross and fled the scene in his vehicle.”
After developing information that Stanford was located in Ingleside outside Corpus Christie, where he was taken into custody yesterday by the San Patricio County Tactical Response Team and the Cedar Park Police Department.
Police said the case is active and ongoing, and did not rule out additional charges filed at a later time.