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Queer Caucus, Hennepin Co. att'y speak out following trans woman's shooting death

Queer Caucus, Hennepin Co. att'y speak out following trans woman's shooting death
Queer Caucus, Hennepin Co. att'y speak out following trans woman's shooting death 09:27

MINNEAPOLIS — Members of Minnesota's Queer Legislative Caucus and the Hennepin County Attorney are speaking out in the wake of a 38-year-old transgender woman's shooting death, which is now being investigated as murder.

Earlier this week, 25-year-old Damarean Bible was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Savannah Williams. She was found Nov. 29 with a gunshot wound to the head in a south Minneapolis courtyard just south of East Lake Street.

The criminal complaint states officers at the scene noticed gunshot residue on the hood of her sweatshirt, which means she was shot at point-blank range.  

On Wednesday, the Queer Legislative Caucus issued the following statement:

"We stand in collective grief and outrage at the senseless murder of Savannah Ryan Williams, a 38-year-old transgender woman brutally taken from our community. This heinous act of violence not only extinguishes a vibrant life but serves as a stark reminder of the dangers and discrimination faced by sex workers and transgender individuals, particularly BIPOC transgender women, and femmes. Transphobia has reached a crisis point, claiming lives with alarming frequency. It is imperative that we stand together, speak out, and actively challenge this dangerous ideology. 

"Savannah's death cannot be treated as an isolated incident. It is a consequence of a society that dehumanizes and marginalizes transgender people throughout their lives, even in the face of unspeakable loss. Black transgender women, at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, are disproportionately targeted for violence and face an epidemic of hate crimes. Savannah Ryan Williams was more than just a statistic, her life mattered. We honor her memory by calling for justice and passing legislation to create a state where everyone, regardless of their identity or profession, can live with dignity and safety."

Criminal complaint details

Witnesses told police they heard a gunshot in the area at about 5:45 a.m., the charges state. Surveillance camera footage showed two people walk into the area at 5 a.m., but only one was shown walking out around the time the gunshot was heard. Police then used more surveillance footage to track the suspect to a downtown apartment building, where management identified him as Bible, according to the complaint.

After getting a search warrant, officers waited until they saw Bible leave the building, and he was taken into custody. The complaint states Bible called his parents in the Hennepin County Jail, where he told his father that he "just murdered someone," and he felt sorry for killing the victim, but he "had to do it."

According to the complaint, two firearms — including a 9 mm ghost gun — was found in Bible's apartment, as well as the clothing he was seen wearing in surveillance footage.

The complaint states Bible initially denied any involvement in the victim's death, but he eventually confessed to killing her with his 9 mm handgun. Bible says he passed by her at a Lake Street bus stop and she offered him sex. They then walked a half block south to the courtyard.

The complaint says when they were finished, Bible shot the victim at close range because she "made him feel suspicious."

If convicted, Bible could serve up to 40 years in prison.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty says her office is looking into whether additional bias crime charges can be applied to the case. She shared the following statement:

"Members of the transgender community have been targeted for violence in Minnesota and around the country. Our transgender community members deserve to live authentically and be free from threats and violence.

"Earlier this year, a person committed a mass shooting at a music party that appeared to target members of our community who identify as queer. The case remains open and active. We recently assigned a senior attorney to work closely with the Minneapolis Police Department to continue the investigation and help identify leads on which to follow up.

"If we are to help all members of the community feel safe, they must believe that law enforcement will not rest until the people who commit violence are identified and held accountable. We will do our part. We will continue to aggressively prosecute gun violence to help all members of the community feel safe.

"This particular case remains under investigation. So while we cannot get into specific details, we can commit to doing what we do in every case, which is to do everything in our power to understand the facts and prosecute the case appropriately. If the investigation reveals sufficient evidence to prove bias motivation beyond a reasonable doubt, we would prosecute accordingly."

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