Black woman shot dead by total stranger at gas station – loved ones say it’s because she was gay

Texas gas station

The family and partner of a 24-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed in Texas on 2 June have claimed that she was targeted due to her sexuality. 

Police in Cedar Park, Texas confirmed on Tuesday (6 June) that Akira Ross was killed by a stranger, but could not say definitively whether the incident was a hate crime, the Austin American Statesman reported.

A 23-year-old man named Bradley Stanford has been arrested, and according to police has been charged with first-degree murder.

Anthony Hill, Ross’s father, told the Austin American Statesman that the incident was a “hate crime”, and that according to witnesses, the suspect had started “calling her gay slurs for no reason” before shooting her outside of a petrol station.

“Losing a daughter is like swallowing a razor blade … nobody wants to deal with that kind of pain,” he added.

“Everybody just loved Akira. She loved bringing joy to other people. She wanted to be a hip-hop musician, and she was writing her own lyrics.”

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Ross’ partner Tanya added that she, Ross and another friend had stopped to get petrol at the station in Cedar Park when Stanford allegedly shouted “gay slurs” at Ross.

When the friend texted Tanya that the suspect was “waving around a gun”, she called 911, then began filming as the suspect attempted to talk to Ross.

“I was recording everything I saw before my own eyes, then I heard gunshots,” adding that she had started “running and screaming”.

“We didn’t expect him to do what he did,” she added.

A GoFundMe page has been started for Akira Ross’ family, with the description claiming that she had been shot “for the sole reason of being queer”. 

“I’m asking for the community and allies to come together in order to support the loss of our LGBTQIA+ sibling,” it added. 

A report found that between 2020 and 2021, the highest number of hate crimes were reported in the US since the FBI began publishing data in 1991.

During that period, violence against LGBTQ+ people increased by 54 per cent, anti-lesbian hate crimes increased by more than 80 per cent and anti-gay hate crimes increased by 40 per cent. Reported hate crimes based on gender identity increased nearly 30 per cent from 2020 to 2021.