Metro Weekly

Transgender woman shot in head in Gaithersburg

Witnesses told reporters that the shooting sprang from an altercation between the victim and the shooter

Zella Ziona (Photo: Zella Ziona, via Facebook).

Zella Ziona (Photo: Zella Ziona, via Facebook).

A transgender woman has died after being shot in the head in Gaithersburg early Thursday evening.

The victim, identified as 21-year-old Zella Ziona of Gaithersburg, was shot at around 5:49 p.m. near the intersection of Lost Knife Road and Contour Road, close to the Montgomery Village Plaza and Montgomery Village Crossing shopping centers. After police closed off the crime scene, Ziona’s purse and sandals were left in plain view.

In a live interview broadcast on FOX 5 News, an eyewitness said he saw the shooter standing over the victim and firing. The eyewitness said he tried to chase the shooter, who reloaded and attempted to shoot him, but the trigger jammed.

A police helicopter and K-9 units were used in the search for the shooter, but there has been no description given, and no arrests have been made. According to reporting from FOX 5’s Marina Marraco, witnesses say Ziona and the suspect had been involved in an altercation before the shots were fired.

Montgomery County Police believe Ziona was deliberately targeted in the shooting. She was transported to a local hospital but succumbed to injuries sustained in the incident. After she was taken in for treatment, authorities initially identified but misgendered Ziona by using her birth name.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect the victim’s preferred name. 

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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