Only a few local community members in Austin, Tex. knew about a trans woman named Monica Loera’s murder after she was fatally shot on her doorstep on January 22 because the police report and local media misgendered her, using only her prior male name and a masculine photograph to identify her.
Loera becomes the first trans woman killed in the new year, according to The Austin Chronicle. Last year saw a record number of trans homicides — at least 21 and almost all trans women of color.
Booking photo of JonCasey Rowell
The Austin Police Department arrested and charged 29-year-old JonCasey Rowell for the murder and Rowell is currently being detained on a $250,000 bond, according to KXAN TV, a local NBC news affiliate.
KXAN also reports that Loera’s roommate told police that Rowell “kept knocking on the door and Loera said ‘he was going to get rid of him because he didn’t want to mess with him.’ When the victim went to to open the door, the roommate said he heard a sound like a firecracker and Loera said, ‘he shot me.’”
After the shooting, Loera was taken to the University Medical Center Brackenridge hospital “where she was pronounced dead from her injuries and the Travis County Medical Examiner ruled Loera's death a homicide” noted Monica Roberts of TransGriot. Roberts is a Houston trans journalist who was one of the first people to report on the case in a trans-affirming manner.
In an update on the TransGriot blog, Roberts notes the following: “Got a call from one of my reporter contacts in Austin. They will start working on doing their due diligence, talking to people who knew Monica as a prelude to correcting their station's story in the morning. APD's information officers need to do a better job of informing the media when it comes to dealing with trans murder victims and not misgendering them.”
Friends say Loera was a warm-hearted woman who adored Madonna, reports The Austin Chronicle, and she loved to cook.