Police in Fort Myers, Fla., are investigating the death of a transgender woman who was found shot and burned behind a dumpster June 19.
The victim, who has been identified in local media reports as Yaz’min Shancez, was found with gunshot wounds and burns behind the garbage container at a rental business located at 2807 Fowler St., according to Fort Myers Police Department Lt. Jay Rodriguez. She was 31.
“We don’t have much information at this time, but this is an active investigation,” Rodriguez told BuzzFeed. “We are working to put all the pieces together and find out who did this.”
Police said there were no eyewitnesses, but that they’ve copied and are reviewing surveillance footage from cameras near the scene for clues.
Additionally, authorities said they have no reason to believe the murder was a hate crime because Shancez was transgender. Rodriguez, speaking about the crime, referred to Shancez by her birth name and said the Fort Myers Police Department “does not categorize victims as transgender or LGBT.”
“His transgender status would only be taken into consideration by investigators if he was specifically targeted because of it,” Rodriguez said by email. “Other than that, we would treat this case like our other homicide cases.”
With that, Rodriguez said the department has not seen any patterns or trends of crimes where victims have been specifically targeted for identifying as transgender or LGBT.
Shancez was found exactly two years after her sister, Cha’Riah Owens, was found shot to death, according to The News-Press. Hundreds of friends, family, and other supporters held a candlelight vigil for Shancez at the city’s Centennial Park Sunday night, according to the paper. An online fundraiser has been created to help offset the costs of funeral arrangements.
Police are asking for anyone with information in the case to contact them at 239-321-7700.