Richmond police continue to investigate homicide, advocates call for change

Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 11:12 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Police say the victim in a homicide that occurred in Richmond has been identified.

Officers were called to the 800 block of Cheatwood Avenue around 5:42 a.m. on Nov. 23 for the report of a vehicle colliding into a detached garage in an alley.

After arriving on the scene, police found Chae’Meshia Simms in a 2019 Chevrolet Impala.

“The Transgender community is heavy, we are saddened, and we are also furious because every week there is a transwoman who is murdered across this country and it really needs to stop,” said Zakia McKensey.

McKensey is the Executive Director of Nationz Foundation, a local organization that advocates for the LGBTQAI+. McKensey says she didn’t know Simms personally but says her murder highlights a growing problem within the transgender community, just four days after the lives of those murdered in that community were memorialized on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is celebrated every year on Nov 21.

“37 women were murder across the country in 2020 when we celebrated the Transgender Day of Remembrance...Now, we’re at 38 and it really needs to stop,” said McKensey. “It’s specifically impactful when it happens right here in the city because that could be me - it could be anyone of my sisters.”

Police say Simms had suffered from a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. Neighbors also reported hearing gunshots in the area.

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause and manner of death.

Police are asking residents in the area to check their surveillance video between 5-6:15 a.m. that day. Police said a man left the area on foot after the shooting.

At this time, police have not released a motive or have classified Simms’ homicide as a hate crime, but McKinsey says Simms’ life should not be forgotten.

“I would like to see community members not disregard this death, that they get out in the community and if you know what happened...speak up because so many times the murders of transgender women go unprosecuted and that needs to stop,” said McKensey.

Anyone with information should contact Major Crimes Detective M. Godwin at (804) 646-5533 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

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