Police identify suspect in murder of metro Atlanta transgender woman

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Police are searching for an 18-year-old Norcross man charged with murdering a Latina transgender woman in her metro Atlanta apartment two weeks ago. 

Pedro Silva-Renteria is suspected of shooting Sophie Vasquez more than once and killing her around 2 a.m. on May 4 inside her apartment near Clairmont Road, according to the Brookhaven Police Department. 

Police obtained an arrest warrant charging Silva-Renteria with murder on May 11, but didn’t go public with the information until Tuesday – a week later. On May 12, police briefed media outlets about Vasquez’s death, but they did not disclose the arrest warrant and stopped short of saying they identified a suspect.

Since May 11, a collection of local, state and federal agencies have been searching for Silva-Renteria. Now Brookhaven police is asking for the public’s help, the agency said in a press release on Tuesday.

Police describe Silva-Renteria as a Hispanic male who is 5’10” and weighs about 180 pounds. He was seen walking along Clairmont Road in Brookhaven at the time of Vasquez’s killing, police said.

Vasquez, 36, is at least the second transgender woman killed in metro Atlanta this year. About 30 friends and LGBTQ activists held a vigil on May 12 at the Atlantic Brookhaven where she was killed. 

Police said last week that investigators know the motive for Vasquez’s death and that it’s likely not a hate crime. 

“At this point, the investigation has not given any information that leads us to believe that the victim was targeted for their transgender status. However, that is part of the investigation. And if detectives uncover evidence to support that, they would obviously seek charges for that type of hate crime,” said Brandon Gurley, deputy chief of the Brookhaven Police Department.

Gurley would not discuss the motive for the homicide or detail how Vasquez met her killer. She was shot more than once, but police are awaiting a report from the medical examiner to confirm an exact number. Five shell casings and three bullets from a .380 caliber handgun were found inside Vasquez’s apartment, according to an incident report.

Donations to an online fundraiser to pay for funeral expenses surpassed $7,000 of its $10,000 goal by Tuesday afternoon.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call the Brookhaven Police Department at 404-637-0600 or Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477. Tips could result in a reward of up to $2,000, police said.

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