Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA+ community is mourning the death of a beloved trans advocate this week. On Sunday morning, Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington was shot multiple times, according to NBC 10, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The shooting came just a day after Muhlaysia Booker, a 23-year-old Black trans woman in Texas, was murdered in a similar manner.
News of Washingon’s death made waves in the transgender community as the 40-year-old was a well-known advocate and mentor. Amber Hikes, Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs called the North Philadelphia resident “brilliant and outgoing. Raquel Evita Saraswati, Chair of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs said, “More than a news story, she was a friend, a loved one, a beloved.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in via Twitter.
Authorities have arrested and arraigned Troy Bailey, 28, in connection with the murder. Local reports say that Bailey originally claimed to be a witness to the crime, and provided a fake description of the person he said killed her. Bailey, who is rumored to have known the deceased, was later identified as the suspect and confessed to the crime.
NBC 10 reports that Bailey admitted to officers that he did, in fact, shoot Washington in the head and torso. The story he provided to police as a motive involved the sale of a firearm. It’s an account that police aren’t ready to accept as true.
Bailey is said to have an extensive criminal history, including domestic and sexual offenses.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Washington is the fifth transgender person in the U.S. this year known to have been killed using deadly force. All five have been Black transgender women.
“Our community is nothing without Black trans women, and we will mourn the loss of Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington today and in the years to come, Saraswati said in her statement. “We pledge to not let her loss be in vain, and to stand with those who both endure and combat this violence on a daily basis.”
Police are not considering Washington’s death a hate crime.