By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Another transgender woman was shot and killed on the border of D.C. and Prince George’s County. Zoe Spears was shot multiple times near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, according to Prince George’s Police on June 13.
Spears, who was 23 years old, is the second transgender woman to be killed in the same area this year. Ashanti Carmon was found shot to death in March and that homicide remains under investigation. According to multiple reports, Spears may have been a witness to that incident, although that has not been confirmed.
Zoe Spears, a tragensfer woman, was shot and killed in Fairmont Heights on June 13. (Courtesy Photo, HRC, Facebook)
Less than 24 hours after the fatal attack Major Brian Reilly of the Prince George’s County Police addressed the media. Reilly told reporters during a press briefing on June 14 that 911 emergency services received a call “for a check on the welfare” on the 600 block of 59th Avenue near Eastern Avenue around midnight. When officers arrived on the scene they found the body of Spears and she was pronounced dead and homicide detectives were called in to begin the investigation.
“At this point there is no direct link that we see at this point,” Reilly said approximately 14 hours into the investigation. “That is obviously something we are monitoring at this point.”
“It is unusual that you have these types of murders within a couple blocks of each other,” Reilly continued. “It’s a close knit community that works out there. What I would say is that should continue to look out for each other.”
The area where Spears was killed is located in an area near the Maryland-D.C. border, where transgender women are known to engage in sex work. It is also one of the few sanctuaries where this community congregates with one another to socialize after many of their other venues closed or where they have no longer been welcomed.
Prince George’s County Police are asking that anyone in the community who has information about this fatal incident contact them, as they are looking for leads which have been hard to come by in either the Carmon case or this one.
“We want the public’s help in trying to solve these two cases,” Reilly said. “
Jennifer Donelan, spokesperson for the Prince George’s Police Department, also stated that they have “stepped up” their efforts in patrolling the area after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Police Chief Hank Stawinski had recently toured the neighborhood on foot.
“We understand that there’s a lot of talk in the community about this case already,” Donelan said. “We need to hear that information. Our detectives need to hear that information because they’re the ones that can go out and lock these people up. We need people talking to us as much as possible.”
According to the Blade, a news publication that caters to the LGBTQ community, Earline Budd, a trans activist in D.C., said that Spears “made it no secret” that she saw Carmon’s murder and feared for her life. On Saturday June 15, Budd confirmed to the Blade that Spears had been previously living at Casa Ruby. Budd added Spears had recently moved into her own apartment and was working before she was killed.
“She got her apartment and she was off and going,” said Budd. “She loved working. Twenty-three is just so young to lose your life.”
“It’s hard,” said Casa Ruby CEO Ruby Corado. “It’s hard because we just lost another life. We just lost another soul and it’s hard to be in their life and to be able to make sure they are fine and then they are gone.”