The body of 23-year-old Chanel Scurlock was found in a field in Lumberton, North Carolina, just after midnight on Wednesday. She is at least the ninth Black trans woman killed in the U.S. in 2019, and the fifth killed in the past month, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Police found Scurlock, who lived in Lumber Bridge, N.C., with fatal gunshot wounds after responding to reports of gunfire in the area. They have yet to identify a suspect, though Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins told The Robesonian, a local paper, that police have "great leads."
“Robeson County sheriff’s detectives are currently working diligently to bring closure to a grieving family,” Wilkins said.
Scurlock's car was initially reported missing, but later found on Wednesday.
Although local media misgendered and deadnamed Scurlock, friends and activists identified her as a transgender woman, according to the Advocate. Her mother, however, has referred to her in interviews as a gay man.
"RIP baby," wrote a friend on Facebook. "Chanel Scurlock You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU."
On the night that she was killed, friends of Scurlock say that she was on her way to meet with someone who had taken down a Facebook post that included a photo of her in which she was presenting as a woman, according to local news station WRAL. Friends told the outlet they were concerned about Scurlock going to meet the person who took down the post, as they believed the meeting could become dangerous.
After a video of Muhlaysia Booker being physically beaten went viral in April, Booker held a press conference pleading with the public to take action to prevent violence against Black trans women. Her death, which occurred only a few weeks after the attack, received widespread attention, bringing the issue of violence against Black trans women into the national conversation.
“This time it was me,” Booker said at her press conference. “The next time it could be someone else close to you.”