A suspect was identified in their killings, but he was later found dead in Cincinnati.
Trans woman Amiri Jean Reid and gender-nonconforming man Kejuan Richardson, both 21, were shot in the head in the early evening of November 14 before crashing their vehicle, TV station WTOL reports. They were pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Toledo police classified the deaths as homicides and issued an arrest warrant for Jorenzo Phillips, 19. But he was found dead in Cincinnati on November 23, Thanksgiving Day, of a gunshot wound that was apparently self-inflicted, according to another TV station, WXIX. No information has been released regarding his motive.
Richardson, a Toledo native, worked for KFC and was a fan of Avengers movies and basketball, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondentsreports. Reid was known for her “ribald sense of humor,” the site notes, and her love of wordplay. “She also shared experiences of transphobia in her social media feed,” according to the site.
“Amiri’s life was cut short by senseless violence, and this narrative has become far too common for Black trans women,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “Although our community can find solace in the Toledo police identifying her killer, the sad reality is that it won’t bring Amiri back and she won’t be able to experience the joys that come with living a long and full life. Despite the tragic ending of Amiri’s life, her spirit will live on, and we must never forget her name.”
“The killing of Black trans and gender-nonconforming people is a devastating trend that continues to rise,” Cooper added. “We’ve seen too many lives, like Kejuan’s, taken far too early, and as a Black trans woman, it makes me angry to read yet another headline of a murder within the trans community. Despite Kejuan’s life ending so tragically, it is important to remember them for all the amazing things they did while they were still here without disregarding the horrific way that they died. Kejuan and Amiri’s lives must be celebrated to remind those with hate in their hearts that the trans community will not be silenced.”
With their deaths, at least 32 trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people have died by violence in the U.S. this year. There are likely many more whose deaths go unreported or misreported due to deadnaming and misgendering.