Community mourns Las Vegas trans woman stabbed ‘in broad daylight’: ‘She was something special’

Sasha Williams

A trans woman who was fatally stabbed at the start of the year in Las Vegas has been named as Sasha Williams. 

Williams, 36, who has been remembered as being “something special” by her friend, was killed on the morning of 26 January near Palos Verdes Street and Twain Avenue.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Hassan Howard, 20, shortly after the stabbing, at his family’s home nearby. 

Howard, who remains jailed with no bond, has been charged with murder. Officials are attempting to decide if he’s able to stand trial after two doctors have “declared him incompetent” to do so, as reported by The Las Vegas Review Journal. 

Williams came out as trans at 16 and was raised by her father, with the help of some aunts, as an only child in Raleigh, North Carolina.

David Leach, the victim’s close friend, told the publication: “She died in cold blood, in broad daylight, in the middle of the street in Las Vegas.” 

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He said of meeting her in 2021 through the Las Vegas ballroom scene: “She really stuck out in my head for some reason… and I was like, ‘I really like this girl: She’s something different, something special.’”

Williams’ aunty Tina Thornton said the 36-year-old, who dreamed of being a performer in Las Vegas, had suffered from depression, made worse by the loss of her home and dogs. 

Her depression saw her grow distant from her friends such as Leach as she turned to drugs, with Leach filing a missing person’s report a month prior to her death. 

Despite her later struggles in life her aunty described her as being a “very smart kid”. 

Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) transgender justice initiative, said: “My heart breaks for Sasha’s family, her friends, and for her community – it is clear Sasha was fighting hard to better herself against long odds.

“Yet again, we find ourselves mourning a life that ended far too soon.”

According to the HRC, Williams is the first transgender or gender non-conforming Nevadan to lose their life to fatal violence since its tracking of such crimes began in 2013.

But others have lost their life to such violence this year, with Meraxes Medina, a 24-year-old trans Latina who was killed in Los Angeles, having been remembered by friends and family as “an amazing soul” in April.