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A transgender woman in Lynchburg, Va., became the 15th transgender person killed in the United States earlier this week after she was shot multiple times by an unknown assailant.
Ebony Morgan, 28, died at Lynchburg General Hospital on Sunday, July 2. Police found Morgan suffering from multiple gunshot wounds after responding to reports of a potential malicious wounding in the 300 block of Rivermont Avenue.
Lynchburg Police released the name of a “person of interest” in their investigation. While he has not been officially named a suspect, police believe that 22-year-old Kenneth Allen Kelley, Jr., may have information relating to Morgan’s death, reports Lynchburg-based The News & Advance.
Kelley is described as 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds.
Police Sgt. Brian Williams told the News & Advance that police do not yet know whether Morgan’s death constitutes a hate crime, due to a current lack of evidence that Morgan’s gender identity played a role in her death.
Anyone with information about Morgan’s death is encouraged to contact Detective A.O. Kittrell at 434-455-6170 or call the police department’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-888-798-5900.
With Morgan’s death, 2017 continues to follow a worrying year-on-year trend of increases in violence against transgender women, particularly trans women of color.
Last year, there were 27 reported killings of transgender people in the United States — the deadliest year on record. The year prior, in 2015, 21 transgender women were killed.
A majority of the transgender murder victims over the past few years have been women of color, according to statistics compiled by the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD.
In a statement issued July 3, GLAAD renewed its call to media outlets to report on murders of transgender women and to refer to them by the gender with which they identified.
“The media must do a better job of reporting these murders and bringing needed attention to a community under vicious and violent attack,” GLAAD said in a statement. “In order for people to be aware of the horrific violence affecting the community, the public needs to know it is happening. The media has a responsibility to communicate about the deadly realities faced by transgender people.”
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