Police are searching for a gunman who robbed and fatally shot a 21-year-old transgender woman in Chesterfield Square early Wednesday morning.
Residents in the area called 911 about 4 a.m. to report a robbery in the 6100 block of South Wilton Place, said Det. Chris Barling of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Police arrived and found Deshawnda Sanchez wounded on the front porch of a home, Barling said. Sanchez died at the scene.
“We believe she was robbed and then the suspect shot her,” Barling said.
It is unknown what was taken from the woman, who did not live in the area.
Barling said it is also unknown whether her identity was a motivator in the killing.
“I cannot say that it is a hate crime at this time. However, we are being open to the fact that it could be a hate crime,” he said.
Christopher Argyros, manager of the anti-violence project at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said that there is a disproportionate level of violence against the transgender community, especially transgender people of color. Argyros said his experience is that the person’s identity is almost always a motivator or component of what escalated the violence.
Sanchez's death marks the third known killing of a transgender woman in Southern California this year.
On June 12, the body of Zoraida “Ale” Reyes, 28, was found in the parking lot of an Anaheim Dairy Queen. Reyes was a transgender activist, and her death raised concerns that she was targeted because of her identity. About four months later, on Oct. 2, Aniya Knee Parker, 47, was fatally shot in East Hollywood about 3 a.m. after a struggle over her purse.
“It really demonstrates that transgender women’s lives aren’t valued in our communities,” Argyros said. “That obviously needs to change.”
Barling said that a light-colored compact car was seen fleeing the scene.
Anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD’s Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341.
For more on homicide in Los Angeles County, follow @nicolesantacruz on Twitter.