CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Derricka Banner, 26, was found shot and killed in a vehicle around 3 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 12, in northwest Charlotte.
Banner, who also went by Ms. Bow Bow, is believed to be at least the 20th known transgender person murdered this year in the United States, most trans women of color, and the city’s 64th homicide of the year.
Montavious Sanchez Berry, 18, was arrested late Tuesday night and is being charged with murder, armed robbery and shooting into an occupied vehicle, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said in a statement.
The shooting occurred in the 1400 block of Rosetta Street, not far from the Northwest School of the Arts.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokesman Robert Tufano said Berry and Banner “had communicated on previous occasions.”
A search warrant was released on Sept. 15 that showed Banner and Berry had communicated via text message to set up a sexual encounter. Berry was the last person Banner texted before being killed, and her phone is said to have contained a video of the two “engaged in sexual activity,” taken 30 minutes prior to the shooting, WBTV reported.
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Banner’s friend, another transgender woman, identified only as Tooker, was hiding in the trunk of the car, as Berry told her to come alone. She reported hearing her friend saying, “Don’t point it at me like that,” before hearing two gunshots.
“He’s a coward, he doesn’t know who he is,” Tooker said. “He tried something, didn’t like it, and couldn’t live with it.”
Police said in a statement on Sept. 14 that there has “been no information or evidence gathered at this point of the investigation to indicate” that Banner’s murder was “because of gender identity.” The statement added that CMPD was communicating with the FBI.
An FBI spokeswoman in Charlotte said that the agency is not involved in the investigation.
As North Carolina’s state hate crime laws do not include protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the federal government has to bring charges for it to be considered on those grounds.
The murder occurred right before Charlotte hosted NC Trans Pride, where Banner was among those honored and remembered.
A number of national, state and local organizations have also marked Banner’s passing.
“A sad moment for our community. This is why we must continue fighting harder for a more trans-affirming culture in our local communities,” said MeckPAC.
Equality NC noted that trans people “are facing a national epidemic of violence.”
The Human Rights Campaign extended “its sincere condolences to Banner’s family and friends during this difficult time” in a statement mourning her passing published on its website.
Earlier this year, Sherrell Faulkner, another black trans woman, died of injuries sustained from an assault that took place in November of 2016.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include details that have emerged since our first report was published.