Friends and co-workers of popular Atlanta transgender performer Lateasha Shuntel launched a memorial fund to help with funeral expenses, while authorities continue to investigate her sudden death on Wednesday.
Doraville police discovered Shuntel’s body at a residence in the 2700 block of Addison Drive, which is in a neighborhood nestled between Chamblee Tucker Road and Buford Highway.
“We were called to the scene [Wednesday] morning, found the victim non responsive and CID was called in at that point and time,” said Gene Callaway, a spokesperson for the Doraville Police Department.
Police have been tight-lipped about their investigation, declining to say if Shuntel was found in her home and whether foul play is suspected in her death. Callaway said investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy by the DeKalb County Medical Examiner.
The autopsy is scheduled for Thursday and is likely to help resolve the case, according to Patrick Bailey, interim director of the medical examiner’s office.
In the wake of the 45-year-old performer’s death, speculation on social media has pointed to a Facebook post from Shuntel on Monday night hinting that she recently underwent an injection of some sort.
The things we do to keep yall loving us. OMG DeAnna Roberts I don't think my ass will ever stop hurting but I have no doubt you are the best in the business. Thanks for filling me COMPLETELY UP.
On a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” subreddit, commenters speculated that Shuntel’s recent injection was saline or silicone. Some transgender women turn to the illegal medical procedures to enhance parts of their bodies, sometimes with deadly results.
So she actually died 24 hours after a shady ass lady gave her sort of an at-home saline injection in her ass. I'm not lying. I am from Atlanta and of course had seen her a bunch and had lots of mutual friends. Some lady had given her saline (I effing hope not silicone!) Just 24 hours before. In fact she made a facebook post about how much it hurt! Post is still visible probably. Then a mysterious comment appeared today after the news hit which was quickly deleted that basically said that had killed her. I screenshotted both the post and comment before it was deleted. I hope they investigate and don't let that lady hurt anyone else.
We reached out to Roberts, the friend Shuntel mentioned in her post on Monday, and will update the story if she responds.
Shuntel’s death prompted an emotional outpouring from friends, customers she tended to while bartending at Blake’s, and drag performers from across the country. Shuntel headlined the bar’s Cell Block Sunday and her days as a personality in LGBT nightlife in the city date to the now-defunct Backstreet. Shuntel also delivered David Atlanta magazines until her death, as well as Southern Voice until the weekly newspaper closed in 2009.
Blake’s said her death left fellow employees at the Midtown bar in shock.
It is with great sorrow that we confirm the sad news that Lateasha Hall also known as Lateasha Shante Shuntel passed away at her home in the early hours of Wednesday, November 18th. This news comes as a shock to all of us here at Blake's, some of whom have worked with her over the past 10 years. Lateasha had a unique perspective and she lived her life to the fullest. All who knew and loved her felt her warm and kind presence. Blake's is mourning the great loss of an iconic family member. We will be remembering Lateasha in the days to come and we will want you to join us to celebrate her life.
On Thursday morning, co-workers from David launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise $7,500 for funeral expenses. Within an hour of the campaign going live, it raised more than $2,000.
We will remember Lateasha’s laugh, sense of humor, friendly spirit and love for life most of all. Thousands will remember her on-stage antics and quick-witted tongue. Those who knew her well also know that she was as soft and loving on the inside as she was tough and bawdy on the outside.
UPDATE | Little more than three hours after the memorial fund was established, some 191 people have contributed $9,725.