Latina transgender woman shot, killed in Brookhaven apartment

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READ MORE | Killing of metro Atlanta trans woman not hate crime, police say

UPDATE | The story was updated to reflect the latest details on a vigil planned for May 12 and where Vasquez lived.

A 36-year-old Latina transgender woman was shot and killed in a Brookhaven apartment and became at least the second trans woman killed in metro Atlanta this year. 

Sophie Vasquez was shot at least once, and police found her body in the doorway of an apartment in the 400 building at Atlantic Brookhaven on May 4. The apartment complex on Windmont Drive is near Clairmont Road just south of its intersection with Buford Highway.

Police recovered five shell casings and three bullets from a .380 caliber handgun, according to an incident report from the Brookhaven Police Department. Police were called to the apartment about 8:15 a.m. The incident report indicates Vasquez was not a resident of the apartment. Community activists told Project Q that Vasquez did live in the complex.

No arrests have been made, and the case is under investigation, according to Lt. David Snively, a police department spokesperson.

The homicide is not listed as a bias crime in the incident report. Police, citing the case’s active investigation, declined to release additional details about Vasquez’s killing.

Friends launched an online fundraising campaign to help pay for Vasquez’s funeral. Nearly $5,500 of the $10,000 goal was raised by Tuesday.

“We want to give Sophie Vasquez the memorial she deserves, to honor her memory and say our last goodbyes,” Angie Arrieta Vasquez wrote in creating the fundraiser. 

A celebration of life was held Tuesday at Hatcher Funeral Home in Graniteville, S.C., according to an online tribute.

Friends and LGBTQ activists are planning a vigil for Wednesday. The event begins at 6 p.m. at the apartment complex where she was killed.

Estrella Sánchez – the executive director of Community EsTr(El/La), which is organizing the vigil – said transgender people face discrimination and are just trying to survive. Sánchez called for justice in Vasquez’s death.

“Stop killing us, we are not hurting anyone,” Sánchez said. “The only thing we are doing is surviving, which is something that society imposed on us. Surviving in this very racist and discriminatory society.”

“This is not transphobia, this is [just] trans hate. We demand justice and accountability. We will not let her death go in vain or be swept under the rug,” Sánchez added.

Vasquez is at least the second transgender woman killed in Georgia this year. Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, a Black trans woman, was murdered inside her apartment in northwest Atlanta on Jan. 17. Five other trans or gender non-conforming people were killed in Georgia in 2020.

Some 20 other trans people – including 14 Black trans women – have been killed in the U.S. in 2021, according to the National Black Justice Coalition. The Human Rights Campaign, which also tracks the killings of transgender and gender non-conforming people, lists 21 people killed so far this year. 

The deaths include two Black transgender women killed less than two weeks apart in April in Charlotte. Two people were arrested and charged in the murders of Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell.

“For too long, members of the trans, non-binary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming community have been the target of violence, discrimination and oppression simply for living their lives as their authentic selves,” Victoria Kirby York, the NBJC’s deputy executive director, said in a press release. “This epidemic of violence must stop. Transphobia, transmisogyny and misogynoir are pervasive in our country and why we continue to see trans lives cut short.”

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