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Group Attacks, Kills Transgender Woman

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The morning after the killing of 22-year-old Kiesha Jenkins in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia, the search for her killers continued. (Published Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015)

    Friends of Kiesha Jenkins, the transgender woman brutally slain by a group of men in Philadelphia earlier this week, are expressing shock and sorrow at the woman's death.

    Police are not calling Jenkins' death a hate crime at this point, but said the violent attack happened when 22-year-old woman was dropped off on Wingohocking Street near 13th about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. When she got out of the car, police said, a group of at least five men accosted her, beating her. When she fell to the ground, one of the men pulled a gun and shot her twice in the back.

    Philadelphia's LGBTQ community and Jenkins friends have been devastated by her killing.

    "She was one of the people who wanted to change this world," June Martínez, a friend of Jenkins, told Telemundo62's Christian Cazares. "This could have happened to any one of us."

    Martínez said she's been crying since she learned of her friend's death on social media, and said she was in disbelief when she first heard about it. She said that getting by can be particularly difficult for members of the transgender community.

    "Many of my friends are trying to stay afloat, but it's difficult, and end up selling drugs or in prostitution," Martínez told Cazares.

    Police said they don't yet have any suspects in Jenkins' killing. They are trying to find the driver who dropped her off before she was killed, whom they believe is a key witness in the murder.

    "Right now we don't have any motive," Homicide Unit Capt. James Clark said earlier in the week. "We don't know if it's potentially a hate crime or if it was a robbery. We really don't know. It's too early in the investigation to tell."

    News of Jenkins' death sparked a strong reaction on social media as posters showed their support for her and urged others to help find her killers by using the hashtag #SayHerName on Twitter and Facebook. Philadelphia's fifth annual Philly Trans* March is scheduled to take place on Saturday in Center City, and a groundswell of support for Jenkins has grown on the event's Facebook page.

    Jenkins is at least the second transgender woman killed in Philadelphia this year, after London Chanel, 21, was fatally stabbed inside an abandoned home in May. A man was charged with murder in Chanel's killing.

    Katrina Robinson said she knew Jenkins and has known other transgender people who have been killed in the city.

    "This has been happening for so long, and it's difficult to see that this is happening to people in my community," Robinson said. "I know she suffered, and it was terrible because she was alone."

    Anyone with information in Jenkins' death should call Philadelphia Police at 215-686-3334.