Friends mourn ‘beautiful soul’ Keanna Mattel, trans woman killed in Detroit

Keanna Mattel, the trans woman shot dead in Detroit, in a photo from 2016.

The trans woman who was shot dead in Detroit on Friday (December 7) has been identified as 36 year old Keanna Mattel.

The woman, who was fatally injured with a gunshot wound on the eastside of the city, was remembered by those who knew her as “a beautiful spirit” and a “sweet, caring individual.”

Sharing a news clip reporting on her death, one of Mattel’s friend wrote on Facebook: “Senseless Murder of another beautiful soul.”

Police have arrested a 46-year-old man in connection with the murder.

The man, named by police as Albert Weathers, was charged with open murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. His bond was set at $1 million, local news outlet WXYZ reported. 

The news outlet reported that Weathers allegedly fled the scene after the shooting, clocked in at work at the Great Lakes Water Authority and, an hour from the shooting, called the police to report someone tried to rob him and he shot someone.

A spokesperson from the Great Lakes Water Authority told WXYZ Weathers was no longer employed at the company and was off-duty at the time of the incident—the spokesperson did not comment any further.

Weathers was identified in several news outlets as a local pastor. According to WXYZ, he was married with children and he rented a space in a local church for his small congregation.

Keanna Mattel the latest victim of violence against transgender people

Funeral services for Mattel, who was identified by in the police report as Kelly Stough, are scheduled for the afternoon of December 15 in Detroit.

“This case reflects the excessive brutality that members of Detroit’s transgender community constantly face.”

— Dana Nussel

Mattel’s murder is the 25th recorded violent death of a transgender person in the US this year. She is also the 18th known transgender person of colour to be killed this year.

The actual number may be higher, as there is no official data collection on crimes against trans people, and monitors frequently have to rely on LGBT+ community sources.

Keanna Mattel spoke out about mistrust between police and trans community

Mattel had previously spoken out about violence against transgender people and the mistrust between the authorities and the community.

“The police are unaware with our struggle so they have no sympathy for us,” she told the Guardian in 2015, after the murder of 20-year-old Amber Monroe, who was also shot dead in Detroit. “Nobody ever asks, what happened to that person to get here?”

Keanna Mattel poses for a selfie.

Keanna Mattel had denounced the mistrust between Michigan authorities and the trans community in 2015. (Keanna Mattel/Facebook)

“We must listen to her words and address the factors that continue to foster an epidemic of violence targeting transgender people, particularly transgender women of color,” the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT+ group that monitors violence against the transgender community, said in a statement on December 10.

“It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects trans women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive,” the organisation added.

Michigan’s incoming state attorney general, lesbian lawyer Dana Nessel seem to be aware of the issue.

Nessel served as president of the Fair Michigan Foundation, an organisation “dedicated to advocacy, education, and outreach regarding LGBTQ and men’s and women’s civil rights in the state of Michigan.”

“This case reflects the excessive brutality that members of Detroit’s transgender community constantly face,” she said in a statement quoted in The Detroit News.

The article was updated with information about Anthony Weathers.