On October 15, Zella Ziona became the 21st confirmed trans woman to be killed in the U.S. in 2015. The following day, Rico Hector Leblond, 20, was charged with first-degree murder for shooting the 21-year-old. The majority of the trans women killed this year have been women of color, according to The Advocate.
Ziona was shot in the head in an alley between two shopping centers in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. According to police, she was on her way to put flowers on her grandmother’s grave. Local news station WJLA reports that a witness saw what appeared to be four or five teenagers surround her and that they argued with her before one of the men, believed to be Leblond, pulled out a gun.
“I only saw one gun. It just happened so fast, and kind of scary,” the witness said. “They argued and things happened so fast. I don’t know what they argued for.”
According to the police report, Leblond and Ziona were friends and Leblond was upset that their relationship had been made public knowledge. After the initial gunshot, the shooter walked over to Ziona and shot her again in the head and the groin.
The shooting happened just before 6 pm and Ziona died in the hospital a couple hours later. Leblond was identified by a witness and he was arrested at a local bus station and is being held without bail.