Even more tragic news to share – this time 24 year-old Ty Underwood, a trans woman of color, was found shot to death Monday morning in Tyler, Texas.
A woman called 911 saying a car had hit a telephone pole and that her children heard gunshots. Underwood’s roommate believes Underwood was targeted because she is a transgender person.
“This has to be a hate crime, this has to be a hate crime, nothing else because that was an upstanding person with a good heart,” Simmons said.
Tyler Police detectives do have a few leads, but nothing substantial enough to lead to a warrant.
“We will follow any leads that come in, we will follow them completely because this was a senseless murder,” Detective Andy Erbaugh said.
Detective Erbaugh believes Underwood was in or near her car when shots were fired. She then tried to drive off, but the car got stuck in a grassy area.
“There were several indicators that there may be bullets fired at the vehicle but we just pulled the vehicles here at the police department and it will be searched pursuant to a search warrant,” Erbaugh said.
According to her friends, Ty was a “very real, down-to-earth person” who was working as a nursing assistant and planned to pursue a degree in nursing at Kilgore College.
Tyler is in the Northeastern part of Texas. The Dallas based Trans Pride Initiative is offering local support and working with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
“The death of Ty Underwood, the second transgender woman of color to be killed in 2015, is a tremendous loss, and our thoughts are with her loved ones today,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti Violence Project. “That these homicides are occurring with such frequency should be a wakeup call to all that we need immediate action on a national level to address this epidemic of disproportionate violence that transgender women of color face.”
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ (NCAVP) most recent report, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2013, documented 18 anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2013. Of those homicide victims, almost 90% were people of color. Almost three-quarters (72%) of homicide victims were transgender women, and more than two-thirds (67%) were transgender women of color.
Tyler-Smith County Crime Stoppers is offering a one thousand dollar reward for a tip that leads to the arrest and charges filed against the suspect.
If you know anything about this case, call the Tyler Police Department at (903) 531-1000 or Tyler-Smith County Crime Stoppers at (903) 597-2833.
It is so heartbreaking to write this – three women of color murdered in just a week, two trans sisters and one a 20-year-old lesbian and mother. These epidemics of violence and hate are destroying our community. It is critical that we continue to highlight the lives of those who are lost to us, lend support to their survivors and push back against the hate and violence with all that we have.
Rest in power, Ty.