RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Loved ones say Richmond's recent murder victim was the victim of a hate crime. Police say 22-year-old Rodney White was gunned down last weekend in an alley on the 2300 block of Gordon Avenue, on Richmond's south side.
Friday night, the LGBT community and Richmond Police joined family and friends for a candlelight vigil. Loved ones tell me White was dressed as a woman the night of the murder.
But police are not calling this a hate crime even if his loved ones are.
"To his friends he was also known as Amari," said family friend, Danielle Davis.
Amari is his transgender name. He recently started embracing a new identity.
"I'm glad that the transgender, the gay community is out supporting us tonight," said Davis.
Rodney's aunt didn't want to talk about Rodney as Amari.
"I don't want to talk about that, I don't want to talk about that," said Rodney's aunt, Demetra Bolling.
But she brightened up when asked to share some good memories.
"Cooking, sewing, designing fashion, he was a fashionista loved it…he was just so loving, wholesome, and humble he wouldn't hurt nobody," said Bolling.
So why would someone killed him?
"Saturday night he was as a female, he was dressed as a female and what happened to him Saturday night the way he was found, where he was shot at was definitely a hate crime," said Davis.
Detectives say they have strong leads in this case, but so far there is no evidence that this was a hate crime.
"A strong motive still has to be determined, but I can tell you, in the 6 or 7 days that we're into this case, that nothing points to this being a hate crime," said Major Steve Drew of Richmond Police Department.
Rodney would have turned 23 now.
"Our hearts go out to him, and we're going to do everything we possibly can for his family and friends and this community," said Drew.
A funeral for White will be Saturday at 11 -- at Mt. Olive Baptist Church on the south side. If you know anything -- call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000, you don't have to give your name.