A string of similar murders has prompted talk of a serial killer targeting a specific group of people.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been murders of three transgender black women in Jacksonville, Florida, there was also another possible linked shooting. The three women were shot to death.
On February 4, thirty-six year old Celine Walker was found shot dead at an Extended Stay America hotel in Jacksonville’s Southpoint area.
Almost four months later, thirty-eight year old Antionia “Antash’a” English was found, barely alive between two abandoned buildings on June 1. She was rushed to hospital but died from her injuries. Only three days later on June 4, another transgender woman was shot but survived. According to NBC news it is unsure whether that shooting was linked, but on June 24 a third woman was found shot dead. Twenty-four year old Cathalina James was found at a hotel suite at a Quality Inn.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office have stated that they are investigating the three murders as separate incidences at this time, though local activist groups believe that a serial killer is hunting the transgender community and according to Gina Duncan of Equality Florida “The transgender community in Jacksonville is frightened, they fear this could be a serial killer or orchestrated violence targeting the community. They do not feel protected on their own streets.
This would not be the first time that the streets of Jacksonville were the hunting ground of a serial killer. Between 1997 and 2003 Paul Durousseau murdered at least seven women, many of them young African American women. Two of his victims were pregnant at the time of their deaths. He currently sits on death row at Union Correctional Institution.
To bring attention to the horrifying crimes against the transgender community, a Trans Lives Matter rally was planned at Duval County Courthouse that is going ahead as this goes to print. Trans activist Mahogany Parks spoke with radio station WJAX about the recent spate of murders. “My friend called me this morning and she asked me about the transgender woman that was killed at the hotel… and I was like no, not again,” Parks said in the interview. “There’s a target on every transgender woman’s back here. We have to watch our back, we have to be careful where we go. You know, it’s crazy that we have to live in solitude, just to stay alive.”