Another transgender woman of color has been murdered: Noony Norwood, who was shot Saturday in Richmond, Va., and died in a hospital the next day, just five days after her 30th birthday.
Police are investigating, and they are circulating photos of a man who was seen near the site of the shooting, GayRVA.com reports.
This is the 24th reported murder of a trans person in 2016; the majority have been transgender women of color. The year is the deadliest on record, already surpassing 2015's total of 21. The actual total for any year is likely higher, given that some deaths are not reported and some victims are misgendered by police or media.
Friends said Norwood was a vibrant presence. "Noony's energy always brightened the room. She cared about her community and always lifted up and supported her friends and family," Zakia McKensey, founder and executive director of Richmond nonprofit Nationz Foundation, told the Virginia Anti-Violence Project. Nationz Foundation is a health and wellness group that focuses on serving LGBT people.
McKensey, who was a mentor to Norwood, last saw her about two weeks ago, when she invited her to a meeting of a transgender support group at the foundation, she told GayRVA.com. "She used to call me "Mom'pie," and so she said, 'Mom'pie, I promise I'm coming.' I told her to be safe and be careful," McKensey said.
Janet Wright, who calls herself Norwood's aunt although they are not related, told Richmond TV station WWBT that Norwood was "a beautiful person" who "would give you anything, would help anybody without even a second thought."
"She was a wonderful person, and they took somebody great from us, seriously," Wright said.
The Virginia Anti-Violence Project noted that while it is yet unknown if Norwood's killer was motivated by anti-transgender bias, trans people are high risk for violence. "While there is still an active investigation happening into the shooting of Noony Norwood, we absolutely do know that perceived and actual gender identity and race often play a role in escalating violence against LGBTQ+-identified individuals," the group wrote on its website. "VAVP hopes that throughout the investigative process, the media, police, and the public at-large, will respect Noony's identity and maintain a level of decorum and understanding when interacting with her family and other individuals who identify within transgender and non-conforming communities."