A suspect has been arrested for the murder of a transgender woman in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced on Friday that it apprehended Kevyn Ramirez , 29, on suspicion of killing Viccky Gutierrez.
Guiterrez, who grew up in Honduras and had been in the United States for three years, died on Jan. 10 after her apartment caught fire while she was trapped inside. The fire was ruled suspicious.
“West Bureau Homicide investigators obtained a search warrant and recovered evidence related to the crime. Ramirez has admitted to investigators that he killed the victim after a dispute,” a press release states.
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He is being held on $2 million bail.
Officials have contacted Gutierrez’s family. She was reportedly sending money back to them and they are said to be heartbroken by the news. Her sister called her “the foundation of this home.”
Vigils were held to remember her in the days following her passing.
The case will be presented to the LA County District Attorney today.
Transgender activists Maria Roman and Bamby Salcedo told the Los Angeles Blade that they felt the LAPD acted more swiftly and responsibly than in previous cases of crimes against trans people.
“In the past, they just called everything a ‘robbery.’ They never call it a hate crime, even though we know it was hate-based. But this was a murder and she was set on fire,” Roman said, adding that she was “shocked” the LAPD “got this done this fast.”
She said it was “community pressure” that made the difference.
“They’re starting to take us more seriously,” she added.
Salcedo, who founded the TransLatin@ Coalition, said she was “conflicted,” wishing the LAPD had done a better job of reaching out to leaders in the community, but added that, “Overall, they did a great job.”
Gutierrez is the second known transgender person killed in the United States so far in 2018. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, who founded the Miss Trans America Pageant, was murdered at her home in Massachusetts. Her husband, Mark Steele-Knudslien, has been charged in her death.
The motive for the murder is still under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to contact West Bureau Homicide at (213)382-9470.