Taya Ashton, a 20-year-old transgender woman, was found dead in her home in Suitland, Maryland this past weekend.
Authorities say that she was shot just before 10 p.m. on Saturday. Neighbors called police when they heard the gunfire.
“The victim was located inside her apartment suffering from a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead on the scene,” a police statement said.
The statement said that police are investigating her death and are still working on identifying suspects and a possible motive.
“Based on the preliminary investigation, at this time, detectives do not believe this was a random crime,” the statement said, adding that there is not yet evidence that she died in a hate crime.
“At this point in the investigation, we have uncovered no evidence suggesting Taya’s murder was due to her gender identity, but as in all cases, we explore all possibilities.”
Ashton’s grandfather Stuart Anderson told the Washington Blade that her family has been devastated by her death.
“We saw her. It looked like a struggle might have taken place,” he said. He and other family members got to her apartment just after police arrived. Anderson said that there were no signs of forced entry, which means that she may have been killed by someone she knew.
A police spokesperson did not confirm this.
“Today is a somber and sad day for the Transgender Community as we remember yet another life so precious taken away,” said transgender advocate Earline Budd in a statement. “Transgender individuals are experiencing violence locally and around the country almost every day.”
“There should be no rest in the LGBTQ community when something as tragic as this happens. Our prayers go out to the family of Taya.”
According to HRC, Ashton is the 31st transgender or gender non-conforming person murdered in 2021.
“Taya was just at the beginning of her life – a life that she deserved to live to its fullest,” said HRC’s Lindsey Clark. “Black transgender women continue to be killed in this country, and this violence is unacceptable.”
Prince George’s County police are asking that anyone with information on Ashton’s death to call (301) 516-2512 or Crime Stoppers at (866) 411-TIPS.