On Tuesday, a suspect was taken into custody in connection with the murder of a trans teenager. Last week, an 18-year-old Black trans woman was gunned down in a Maryland bar parking lot early Friday morning.
Tasiyah Woodland, known as Siyah by friends and family, died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds.
Sheriff’s deputies were quick to respond to reports of gunfire at the Big Dogs in Paradise Bar and Grill outside Mechanicsville last week, where witnesses said Woodland and a man later identified as Darryl Carlton Parks Jr. were involved in a confrontation.
On Wednesday, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office announced it charged 29-year-old Parks, a D.C. resident, with her murder.
Authorities said they identified Parks as the shooter based on eyewitness reports the night of Woodland’s death, shortly after 1:00 a.m. Friday morning. Later that day, investigators obtained an arrest warrant.
On Tuesday, sheriff’s investigators, along with the Metro D.C. Police Homicide Unit, located and apprehended Parks. He’s being held in D.C. while awaiting extradition to Maryland.
In their announcement, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s office said they’d seen no evidence indicating Woodland was targeted because of her gender identity, while Woodland’s family said she had been subjected to “hate” based on her gender identity in the recent past.
Parks has been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, firearm use/felony-violent crime, two counts of reckless endangerment from car, and illegal possession of a regulated firearm.
The Sheriff’s Office says Parks shot Woodland while he was in his vehicle.
Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jason Babcock said multiple witnesses reported a confrontation took place after Woodland left the bar and entered the adjacent parking lot. Maryland allows people under 21 to patronize bars if they don’t consume alcohol on the premises.
“When she came back out, there was some kind of confrontation between the suspect and the victim that led to the shooting,” Babcock told the Washington Blade. “But they were not in a relationship, and the investigation has determined that the victim’s gender identity was not a factor in the shooting.”
The Sheriff’s Office said it’s been in “regular contact” with the victim’s family to offer support and updates on the investigation, as well as members of PFLAG Southern Maryland and the LGBTQ+ community “to address concerns of personal and public safety.”
Woodland is at least the eighth trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence in the U.S. this year.
Family members called Woodland “a powerful spirit.”
“She was one of a kind,” Woodland’s sister, Ty’aliyah Woodland, told News 4 Washington. “She had no filter. She told you what it was and what it wasn’t.”
She added: “I mean, she was the true definition of living life to the fullest.”
Woodland’s aunt, Lizzy Woodland, described Siyah as “a powerful spirit” on a GoFundMe page to raise money for her funeral. Calling her niece’s death “senseless,” she shared how Siyah’s transition came about.
After she and her three siblings lost their mom, “someone whom she deeply resembles and looked up to,” she got the courage to start living in her truth and started her transition, which her family accepted with open arms.
“For the years that God gave us her, she was a joy and made sure everyone she was around knew that they were loved. This unexpected death has overcome our family with grief.”