The LGBTQ community along with friends and family of Mesha Caldwell are in mourning after she was found shot to death Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 3), making her the first reported transgender murder of the year.
According to the Sun Herald, Caldwell’s body was found on the side of the road in Canton, Mississippi. Coroner Alex Breeland confirmed it was Caldwell, who was born Omario Caldwell. Her death has been ruled a homicide. While there are limited details behind the shooting, police are currently investigating when the shooting happened, and a motive.
Caldwell was a well-known beautician and makeup artist in her community. Evonne Kaho, CEO of the transgender nonprofit Love Me Unlimited 4 Life, shared her thoughts behind the shooting. Kaho and Caldwell had known each other since 1996. “She was a happy person that loved everyone and never met a stranger,” Kaho said. “For me as a black transgender woman and the leader of the community, it’s a very hard pill to swallow. This is a tragic event, and it not only impacts the trans community but the community as a whole.”
In 2016, 26 trans people were murdered with nearly half of them African-American trans women. With most deaths going unreported or solved, Kaho is hoping 2017 won’t continue the unfortunate trend. “Each time a person of trans experience is killed or experiences violence against them, it is an assault against all of the ideals that we as a country stand for,” she said. “The ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The freedom of being who we want to be and being entitled to do so without persecution.”
Details of Caldwell’s autopsy are expected to be released in the upcoming weeks.