Va. Transgender Woman Who Was 'Always Caring for Others' Is Fatally Shot in Driver's Seat of Car
Chae’Meshia Simms was declared dead at the scene from an apparent gunshot after the vehicle she was driving crashed
The alleged shooting death of a transgender woman in Richmond, Virginia, has her heartbroken family joining with police in a search for answers.
Chae’Meshia Simms died from an apparent gunshot and was pronounced dead at the scene after a call reporting that a car had crashed into an alleyway just before 6 a.m. on Nov. 23, police said.
A family member said Simms, who was in her 30s, was found behind the wheel of her mother's rental vehicle, reports WTVR.
Police have not identified a motive, and an official determination of Simms' cause and manner of death is pending the results of an autopsy.
Whoever pulled the trigger, "I ask 'em to turn yourself in," Simms' father said at a vigil Friday, according to WTVR. "We're never going to stop looking."
At least 39 transgender or gender non-conforming persons have died violently in the U.S. this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign -- an inexact tally "because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported," the LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization said in a statement on its website.
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In life, Simms was a "well-loved individual" who was "always caring for others," said her father, who described his family's loss as "tremendously heartbreaking."
"We're going to find out the reasoning behind it, so we can have closure as a family," he said, reports WTVR.
"With the help of the LGBT community, the support of the Richmond Police Department, as you can see out here with the community," he said at the Friday vigil, "we're going to continue to keep looking."
Simms died three days after the national Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual effort to memorialize victims of transphobic violence.
“As a trans woman of color, I know most well how we are disproportionately impacted and marginalized,” Richmond activist Zakia McKensey told the TV station. “When will I stop seeing news feeds or news threads or stories about trans women being brutally murdered?”
“For this to happen just a few days after, it’s hitting home in Richmond," McKensey said. "It makes people paranoid. It makes us as a trans community outraged and frustrated."
Richmond police ask anyone with information about Simms' death to call call Major Crimes Detective M. Godwin at 804-646-5533 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.