A gender nonconforming person was shot and killed in Atlanta in the early hours of Sunday morning, leaving the community grieving and police searching for their killer or killers.
Nino Fortson, 36, got into an argument with a group made up of two men and two women, a witness told police, according to Project Q Atlanta. At one point, Fortson reportedly pulled out a gun and fired it into the air.
The witness said he then began walking away from the scene, until he heard more gunshots and turned to see Fortson lying on the ground and one of the men limping away.
Fortson was taken to the hospital, where they died from their injuries.
They were a member of the city’s ballroom scene, and also went by the names Nino Starr and Nino Blahnik.
Kamaro Blahnik, father of the House of Blahnik, made a Facebook video with Fortson’s partner, Tera, confirming their death.
While some reports have referred to Fortson as trans masculine, Project Q Atlanta identifies them as gender nonconforming. Their Facebook profile lists them as female, matching how Tera refers to them in the video, and Blahnik alternates between male and female identifiers in the post.
Atlanta Police spokesperson Officer D.T. Hannah said that while their preliminary investigation did not indicate the victim identified as transgender, and that they “have no evidence at all that such an identification played any role in this death,” the department’s LGBT liaisons are working with the homicide unit “to see if there’s some angles that need to be explored.”
Fortson is the 10th known transgender person killed in the United States this year.
“Last year was the highest record of violence against trans people in the metro Atlanta area and in the state of Georgia,” Zahara Green, executive director of the Atlanta-based organization Transcending Barriers, told Them.
Green said four trans women were murdered in the state last year, the most recent of which, that of Candace Towns in Macon, remains unsolved.
In Dallas, two unsolved incidents involving transgender women of color have the city in mourning and on alert.
On May 9, 26-year-old Carla Patricia Flores-Pavón was strangled to death in her apartment, and on May 12, the body of an unidentified woman was pulled from White Rock Creek.