Trans woman murdered in horrifying stabbing attack while volunteering at Christian homeless shelter

Trans woman Kimberley Fial

A 55-year-old trans woman is among two people killed in a horrifying stabbing attack at a Christian homeless shelter in San Jose, California.

Kimberly Fial was murdered with a chef’s knife by Fernando Jesus Lopez, 32, on 29 November in the Grace Baptist Church shelter where she volunteered.

One adult male was already dead when police arrived at the scene, but Fial was still alive along with a further three victims who also suffered stab wounds. She was rushed to a local hospital where she tragically succumbed to her injuries.

Those who knew her described her as a proud trans woman who “loved bright colours” and had the “ability to draw a laugh out of people around her”, the Human Rights Campaign said. She was “a kind and loving person” and someone with “a twinkle in her eye”, friends and loved ones remembered.

Fial arrived at Grace Baptist Church as a shelter guest in the middle of the year, and almost as soon as she got there she started pitching in to help staff however she could, said shelter manager Anthony Mastrocola.

That included helping make and serve dinner, passing out coffee in the morning and running the shelter’s shower arrangements.

“My heart always felt warm when I saw her when I got into the building,” Mastrocola told Planet Transgender. “One, I’m thinking, ‘OK I know everything’s under control.’ And two, she’s just a good person.”

Lopez also stayed and volunteered at the homeless shelter alongside Fial. “He had us all thinking, this dude is solid,” Mastrocola said. “He’s helpful. He’s respectful. He’s thoughtful.”

The manager is now struggling to comprehend how and why Lopez attacked as he did, but he noted the man had become increasingly paranoid and suspected he had returned to drugs.

A vigil was held to remember Kimberly Fial and all the victims of the stabbing last week. Her death marks the 41st violent death of a known trans or gender non-conforming person in 2020, the deadliest year for transgender people since records began.