Zoe Spears, a transgender woman, was found shot to death on a sidewalk in a suburb outside of Washington, D.C. on June 13. She was found at the same intersection as another murdered transgender woman, Ashanti Carmon, who was friends with Spears.
Prince George’s County police announced Thursday that they had arrested Gerardo Thomas, 33, with first-degree murder after he admitted to being at the scene and armed the night of Spears’s killing, Brian Reilly, head of the criminal investigations division for the county police, told The Washington Post.
Police recovered a shotgun Wednesday while searching Thomas’s home in Baltimore and are working to determine if it’s the shotgun that killed Spears, Reilly said.
A surveillance video captured Spears’s murder. In the video, Spears is seen approaching the car from the passenger side and speaking with someone. Then, a flash is seen, and the car drives off as Spears collapses.
Spears had been telling friends before her death that she feared returning to her house along Eastern Avenue at the District-Maryland line because she had actually witnessed her friend Carmon’s killing.
Law enforcement say that the investigation is still ongoing but at this time they don’t believe the murder was because of Spears’s gender and they don’t think it’s connected to the shooting death of Carmon.
“[Thomas] did not mention anything about her being a transgender female,” Reilly told The Post. “He gave us no reason.”
Prince George’s and Fairmount Heights police have increased patrols in the area where Carmon and Spears were killed and advocates have urged transgender people to stay away from the stretch along Eastern Avenue known to be a gathering place for sex workers, The Post reported.
Murders of transgender women, especially transgender women of color, are less likely to be solved than other murders of women. After the recent slew of murders of transgender women of color, advocates are calling for more attention on their cases.