An 18-year-old man in Florida, described as a "violent career criminal," has been charged with murder in the shooting death of India Clarke, a 25-year-old transgender woman of color killed in Tampa, Fla., on July 21.
Tampa resident Keith Gaillard turned himself in to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Tuesday, reports NBC News. He has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, and one count of possession of a firearm. Police investigating the case declined to identify a motive, but did indicate they believe Gaillard knew his victim.
"Detectives found a fingerprint on a cigar wrapper inside Clarke's car, and Gaillard's public Facebook profile allegedly showed him showing off a small-caliber revolver, the sheriff's office said.
A witness told investigators that Gaillard had a .22-caliber revolver, and that he told the witness, 'I think I killed someone,' according to the sheriff's office. Another witness allegedly told investigators that Gaillard said, 'that was me,' when asked about the body found the park, the sheriff's office said."
Clarke died as a result of a single gunshot to the head. Her death, which The Advocate initially reported as being a result of "blunt force trauma to the head," made her the tenth transgender woman murdered in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Just days later, trans woman K.c. Haggard was stabbed to death in Fresno, Calif., bringing the total reported dead to 11 trans women in the U.S.
By comparison, 12 transgender women were murdered in the U.S. in all of 2014, though this does not account for individuals whose deaths were not reported or investigated, nor for victims who were misgendered or not regarded as trans women in death.
This year has also seen the murders of Mercedes Williamson, 17, in Rocky Creek, Ala.; London Kiki Chanel, 21, in Philadelphia; Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, in Miami; Penny Proud, 21, in New Orleans; Taja DeJesus, 36, in San Francisco; Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, in Los Angeles; Papi Edwards, 20, in Louisville, Ky.; Ty Underwood, 24, in North Tyler, Texas, and Lamia Beard, 30, in Norfolk, Va.
Bri Golec, 22, of Akron, Ohio, has been identified as a possible other victim, though there exist conflicting reports from friends and family about how Golec identified.
Women of color are the predominant group of trans people facing fatal violence every year worldwide. This year's particularly deadly start — with the U.S. averaging one trans woman reported murdered in each of the first seven weeks of 2015 — has had trans rights activists incensed, and demanding structural, social, policy and law changes that protect trans people from discrimination and harassment, and more frequent, respectful mainstream media attention to what many have termed a homicide "epidemic."