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Transgender 18-year-old Jazlynn Johnson shot to death in Las Vegas

Police "do not cross" tape with police car blurred behind it
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A 17-year-old who claimed to be her friend has been charged with murder.

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Jazlynn Johnson, an 18-year-old transgender woman, was shot to death May 6 in Las Vegas, and a 17-year-old has been charged with murder.

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Johnson was found inside a car early that morning and was pronounced dead at the scene, TV station KLAS reports. Police had responded to a call from a man who said his son told him he’d shot a friend. The son, Cesar Sandoval, was arrested and charged with murder with the use of a deadly weapon and destroying or concealing evidence. He is being held at Clark County Juvenile Hall.

Sandoval had come home about 3 a.m. in a hysterical state and said he had accidentally shot his friend, the station reports. He asked his parents not to call the police, but they said they had to. He insisted that the shooting was accidental and told police he did not know where the gun was.

There is little information available about Johnson, but LGBTQ+ rights groups are speaking out and calling for further investigation to see if hate-crime charges can be brought. “We are heartbroken to learn of the murder of Jazlynn Johnson, a young transgender woman,” said a statement from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Jazlynn’s murder is the latest in a pattern of senseless deaths among transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming youth across America who face rampant harassment and violence simply because of who they are. The hostile climate of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and proposed legislation has a real-world impact on LGBTQ lives. All of us who believe in love and kindness have an obligation to speak out to support every young person’s right to live freely as themselves, in safety, peace, and acceptance. GLAAD sends our deepest condolences to Jazlynn’s loved ones, and we will work side by side with advocates in Nevada fighting for the safety of all LGBTQ people in their state.”

André Wade, state director for Nevada LGBTQ+ rights group Silver State Equality, released this statement: “Earlier this month, 18-year-old trans teen Jazlynn Johnson was shot to death in Las Vegas. Mere words lack the capacity to convey the LGBTQ+ community’s sadness at this incomprehensible violence and our deepest sympathy for Jazlynn’s family and friends. While a 17-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with murder, we urge continual investigation to determine if this can be charged as a hate crime. Crimes against transgender and gender-nonconforming people — especially transgender youth of color — continue to escalate nationwide. As we grieve for Jazlynn, we must never give up hope that one day all people will live lives that are healthy, just and fully equal for all.”

More than a dozen trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people have died by violence in the U.S. this year.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.