Police in Pittsburgh have launched an investigation into the death of a woman who a local LGBTQ+ advocacy group has identified as 21-year-old Amarey Lej.
Authorities told local TV station KDKA they responded to calls of a body lying in the street in the Wilkinsburg area of the city around 6 a.m. on January 1. The victim had been fatally shot.
Detectives with the Allegheny County Police told the station they have launched an investigation.
Local Black and trans rights advocacy group SisTers PGH identified the victim as Lej.
“Amarey was a bright woman and former student at Woodland Hills [School District]. We at SisTers PGH would like to send her fellow classmates our deepest condolences, but also our deepest gratitude, as you rose in protection of Amarey when she needed it most,” SisTers PGH said in a statement on Facebook.
Lej, who also went by Myara, is the first reported killing of a trans person in the country in 2022. As Pittsburgh City Paper reports, she is one of half a dozen trans people of color who have died in the Pittsburgh area in the last year.
“Amarey was not the first, but it is up to every one of us to fight like hell to make sure she is the last,” SisTers PGH said. “This is our time, as trans people and activists, to gather and engage in conversations regarding safety and policy. It is our time to demand not only justice for Amarey, but for all of us. Our lives are on the line, and we deserve not just survival, but peace and joy.”
The group added: “As we move into this New Year, let’s keep Amarey in our hearts and minds to inspire us on this journey for our liberation.”
Anyone with about Lej’s death is asked to call the local authorities 1-833-ALL-TIPS.
Last year, there were a record number of trans and nonbinary violent deaths in the U.S. since human rights groups began tracking these numbers — although many more likely go unreported due to misgendering and deadnaming.