Gay Atlanta prepares to celebrate life of Lateasha Shuntel

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Authorities are closing in on what led to the death of popular transgender performer Lateasha Shuntel as gay Atlanta prepares to remember her during benefit shows on Sunday.

The DeKalb County Medical Examiner completed its autopsy of Shuntel, 45, on Thursday, just a day after she was found dead at her home on Addison Drive in Doraville. Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology and histological testing, which could take two or three weeks. 

But the autopsy showed that Shuntel did not suffer any traumatic injuries before her death, according to Patrick Bailey, interim director of the medical examiner’s office.

“It does not appear to be anything traumatic. We still have further testing to do,” Bailey said. 

Until the results of additional tests are completed, the medical examiner won’t issue a ruling on the cause of death, he said. Those additional tests could reveal if Shuntel’s death was related to any recent medical procedures. Speculation on social media has focused on a Facebook post from Shuntel on Monday hinting that she underwent some sort of injection. 

Bailey said the investigation will consider if a possible saline or silicone injection played a role in Shuntel’s death.

“We can’t ignore it. It may be a contributing factor. We are looking at everything,” he said.

Meanwhile, the outpouring of support from LGBT fans and friends in Atlanta and across the country continued in the wake of her death. Within hours, a memorial fund to help pay for funeral expenses easily exceeded its $7,500 goal. By Friday morning – just 24 hours after it was established – 371 people had donated $16,930.

The overwhelming response to the memorial fund surprised even Phoenix, a drag performer who worked with Shuntel and helped coordinate it and a benefit show for her this weekend.

When i called David Atlanta with the idea to set up a “Go Fund Me” never did I dream this would fall in to place and happen like it has… I was scared to put $7500 out there, thinking it was so large but David said this is best, we can do it…. and now we are passed that number, smh… I cant express to you have grateful I am, how grateful her mother and family are, and how grateful Lateasha's close friends are. Her mother has been told that we are raising money, and she is overwhelmed by the love we have showed her child, her daughter during this time of loss and tragedy. This doesnt take the pain away from her family, but it definitely helps in their time of need.

Shuntel’s former co-workers at David Atlanta, who established the memorial fund, are exploring options to donate any leftover money to programs that help transgender people.

A celebration of life is planned for Shuntel on Sunday. Events include a fundraiser at Ten beginning at 4 p.m. Then events shift to Blake’s at 7 p.m., which is the usual start time for Cell Block Sunday. Shuntel headlined that show for the bar.

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