One of the victims of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, last weekend was shooter Connor Betts’ own sibling.
Initially identified by media as Megan Betts, friends of the victim now say that those reports are wrong, and that his preferred name was Jordan Cofer, he preferred he/him pronouns, and he identified as a transgender male.
Splinter News spoke to friends of Cofer, who was 22 when he was shot dead by his brother during a rampage that saw eight other people lose their lives and left 27 wounded.
A close friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Cofer was out to only a few people, but not to his brother. Cofer’s gender identity is not currently believed to have been a factor in his death.
“Jordan was my closest friend,” the friend told Splinter. “He identified with he/him pronouns to people he trusted and knew would support him. Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint, but he was also very scared constantly. He tried to give the best to everyone.”
The friend added: “Jordan told me in the past that he was not out to his family, but that could have changed in the past month as we barely spoke of the topic recently. I do not believe that his gender identity had played a part in his death because of the fact that he wasn’t out to many people.”
Splinter apparently uncovered social media accounts belonging to Cofer, including a Tumblr account where he described himself as an “ace poly trans boy with a loving heart and way too much work to do.”
Splinter also noted that outing Cofer posthumously was a “delicate” situation, but that the trans community “has a right to account for its dead”:
“Stories like Cofer’s, featuring a young trans person who was a victim of a devastating and high-profile crime but who appears to have only shared his trans status with a small circle of people, are delicate. People can debate about whether the fact of his gender identity is newsworthy. What is clear, though, is that his friends are free to remember him as they knew him.
“The trans community also has a right to account for its dead. There’s been no indication thus far that Cofer’s murder was a transphobic hate crime, but it serves as an important reminder that trans people are more than the transphobia society visits upon them. Everyone who spoke with Splinter for this story felt it was important for his true identity to be accurately reported in the press, without sensationalistic or political sentiments.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality said the shooting required “swift and immediate action” from lawmakers.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Jordan as well as eight others in this tragic and violent act,” they said. “Mass gun violence is an epidemic in this country and deserving of swift and immediate action by lawmakers at all levels of government. We join the nation in mourning for every community impacted by gun violence.”
The Washington Post reported that Cofer was one of the first people to die after Connor Betts opened fire in Dayton’s historic Oregon District.
The siblings traveled to the area, a popular dining and nightlife spot, together along with a male companion of Cofer’s, but separated after arriving. While Cofer died, his male companion survived.
Betts was stopped less than a minute after he started shooting, with police officers shooting him to death as he tried to enter a bar filled with dozens of people.