A national LGBTQ advocacy group has identified a person killed in Zebulon in May as 45-year-old Sasha Mason.
At the time of the incident, Mason, a transgender woman of Latino descent, was identified by the Zebulon Police Department as a man with a different name. The News & Observer published a story about the killing using details in the police report, including Mason’s “dead name.”
A dead name is a term in the LGBTQ community used to refer to the name a transgender person was given at birth before their transition.
The N&O asked Zebulon Police Chief Jacqui Boykin about Mason’s case and requested an interview about the information the department provided to the media. Boykin was not available for an interview in time for publication.
The Human Rights Campaign wrote in a press release that Mason’s death is the 16th confirmed killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in the United States so far this year.
“Sasha’s death is yet another tragic incident in an epidemic of fatal violence against transgender people, especially transgender women of color,” said Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, in the release. “Those who wish to do us harm are emboldened by the hostile anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and anti-trans stigma in our current politics and culture. It must end.”
Zebulon Police officers responded to a shooting call around 2 a.m. May 13 in the 200 block of West Barbee Street. Police found Mason suffering from gunshot wounds in an apartment behind a home, The News & Observer previously reported. They believe the attack was targeted.
Officials initially charged two suspects with conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, according to Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.
Ali Tariq K. Wiggins, 30, was arrested May 13 and is in the Wake County Detention Center under $1 million secured bail. Police say Wiggins and Mason knew each other.
Julius Antwan Smith, 33, was arrested two days later. He was later charged with murder on June 22 and remains in custody without bail. He is due in court on July 14.
Officials have not shared a possible motive.
This investigation is ongoing.