A 23-year-old trans man was fatally shot outside a dollar store in Lynchburg, Virginia.
At around 5:55pm on Monday afternoon (12 June), police arrived at the Family Dollar at 2029 Fort Avenue to find Novaa Ru Watson suffering from “malicious wounds”.
He was rushed to the Lynchburg General Hospital where he later died of his injuries, the Lynchburg Police Department said in a statement.
Police officials confirmed to The News & Avenue that investigators are looking into whether the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute.
They confirmed that a child was found at the scene of the shooting and was unharmed, but did not provide any other details.
Detectives added that they are investigating the shooting as a homicide but there is currently no evidence of a hate crime.
Watson’s family confirmed to the authorities that the victim was a trans man and his pronouns were he/him.
While they were reportedly not aware of him going by a name other than his deadname, they claimed, friends said his name was Novaa, which is listed on his personal Facebook profile. Others said he went by ‘EJ’ and ‘E’.
He is, at the least, the 29th trans person slain in the US, according to LGBT+ groups, yet another victim of what the American Medical Association has dubbed an “epidemic of violence“.
Novaa Watson was a person full of ‘good vibes’, says friend
Watson, who grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, had only days ago celebrated his 23rd birthday.
On his social media, he often rapped and shared quotes from his favourite artists, such as Drake.
Loved ones described him as a reliable and high-spirited person who would answer a person’s phone call no matter what, in tributes posted to Facebook.
“He was loved and like[d] by everyone,” Torri Chippe, a friend of Watson’s since middle school, told The News & Avenue.
“He was one of those people that was just good vibes and energy.”
Watson was deadnamed throughout official police documents as well as local news reports.
By the estimates of Human Rights Campaign, a top LGBT+ rights group, around three-quarters of all known victims are misgendered by media and/or by law enforcement.
His name joins those already mourned this year by the trans community: Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Dominique Lucious, Jaida Peterson, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smüt, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Jahaira DeAlto Balenciaga, Keri Washington, Sophie Vásquez, Danny Henson, Whispering Bear Spirit, Serenity Hollis, Oliver ‘Ollie’ Taylor, Thomas Hardin and Poe Black. It is almost certain that there are more victims missing from this list, with many deadnamed or misgendered in death.
“This violence is staggering,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative in a statement earlier this month.
“And if it continues, we will record more cases of fatal violence against trans and gender non-conforming people this year than any prior year.
“As we continue to see unprecedented levels of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people, everyone must speak out in support of trans lives.”