Three years ago, after a trans woman in her neighborhood was killed, Keanna Mattel lamented that police didn’t understand the challenges facing trans people.
On Friday, Mattel herself became the latest transgender victim of violence.
Mattel was 35-years-old, an active member in Detroit’s ballroom scene, and loved by many. She died two blocks away from the spot where her transgender neighbor Amber Monroe was gunned down in August 2015.
On Friday morning, police found Mattel dead in her Palmer Park neighborhood, the victim of a gunshot wound.
Detroit Police Department spokesperson Dan Donakowski declined to identify Mattel. Instead, friends and LGBTQ advocates spread word of her passing through the grapevine. Donakowski did confirm that police found the body of a transgender female at 6 a.m. on East McNichols Road between Brush and Omira on Detroit’s East Side.
Police have arrested a 46-year-old male in connection with the shooting, said Donakowski. He would not release the identity of that person.
“It may be a case of self defense, possible robbery,” Donakowski told INTO, adding that police were in the process of interviewing suspects, but believed that the shooter may have been the victim of an attempted robbery. “So the investigation continues.”
LGBTQ advocates, however, declining to speak on record, said some who knew Mattel said she may have been picked up by the person who killed her, suggesting she may have been targeted.
Donakowski said it was unknown whether Mattel knew the shooter.
In 2015, The Guardian quoted Mattel in its coverage of Monroe’s death.
“The police are unaware with (sic) our struggle so they have no sympathy for us,” Mattel told the Guardian. “Nobody ever asks, what happened to that person to get here?”
On social media, Mattel’s friends mourned her passing. Mattel was active in Detroit’s ball scene and a member of the Legendary Iconic House of Ebony.
This is a breaking story. INTO will update as details become available.
If you’re LGBTQ and have experienced or witnessed violence, report to the Anti-Violence Project’s hotline at 212-714-1141 or online.