“Please help me make this video viral! The army just killed my wife! Please help me spread it! … They killed Juliana … We don’t have weapons, we don’t have drugs, we don’t have anything, this man killed her. Look, we’re not wearing anything, they killed Juliana, that man shot her in the head.”
Unable to contain his tears or anguish, Francisco Larrañaga pleads for help in a video that he recorded himself. His wife, Juliana Giraldo Díaz, a 38-year-old transgender woman, had just been killed instantly by a bullet that a Colombian soldier fired from his gun while she passed through a military checkpoint.
The shooting took place at around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 in a rural area of Cauca department in southwestern Colombia. Giraldo was in the passenger seat of the car that Larrañaga was driving.
Two versions of why the soldier opened fire are circulating in the Colombian media: One indicates the car did not stop at the checkpoint, while the other says the vehicle was backing up.
General Marco Mayorca, commander of the Colombian Army’s 3rd Division, supported the latter version. In an interview with Caracol Radio, Mayorga said a soldier reported having shot the vehicle’s tires when it was backing up near the checkpoint because he thought it was preparing to crash into it.
“The soldier said he shot the tires to stop the vehicle,” Mayorga added. “It seems to me that a bullet hit the pavement and changed course … unfortunately hitting Juliana.”
President Iván Duque and Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo condemned the shooting on Twitter. Duque has called for a swift investigation and added the person responsible should be prosecuted fully under the law.
Holmes said that the soldier involved in the shooting and other uniformed men who were with him when it happened have been relieved of their duties. Colombia’s attorney general has also launched an investigation into whether Giraldo was targeted because of her gender identity.
The Transgender Community Network, a trans rights group, notes Giraldo is the 28th trans person killed in Colombia this year. The Transgender Community Network says violence against LGBTQ Colombians has increased during the first eight months of 2020, with at least 63 people—including 17 trans women—killed.