The slaying of Deshawnda Sanchez has become a rallying cry for Southern California's transgender community.
"Transgender lives matter" chanted a group of several dozen that Friday night marched through the Chesterfield Square neighborhood of South Los Angeles to the house where Sanchez was shot to death early Wednesday morning.
Sanchez had been chased down by a man seen in security camera video running from a car in the 6100 block of south Wilton Place. They disappeared out of frame. Moments later, the man ran back to the car and sped away. Emergency responders found Sanchez , 21, mortally wounded on the front porch.
"Deshawnda was funny and smart and quick and witty and courageous and excited about living," said Renee Bever, who had met Sanchez in her work aiding transgender youth. "It's really sad she can't keep doing that because someone took her life."
Top news of the day
At this point in the investigation, without a suspect identified, investigators are not prepared to conclude the perpetrator was motivated by hate, said Det. Chris Barling, Homicide detective coordinator at LAPD's 77th Divison. It appears the initial intent was robbery, Barling said.
"Miss Salcedo knew she was being robbed and was trying to seek aid at the residence," said Barling.
To many of the marchers, still reeling from earlier transgender slayings, the circumstances have all the earmarks of hate crime.
"Our community are getting killed just because of who we are," said activist Bamby Salcedo, one of the organizers of the march and vigil.
Two months ago in East Hollywood, a 47-year-old transgender woman, Anaya Parker, was accosted by a group of men who tried to take her purse. She resisted. As she was walking away, one of the men chased her down and shot her to death.
No arrest has been made, but case detective Kevin White Friday said investigators are making progress in identifying the individuals involved.
"They're not robberies gone bad," said Michaela Ivri of West Hollywood. She called on police "to start categorizing these unfortunate murders as what they are. They are hate crimes."
In June, transgender activist Zoraida Reyes disappeared and was found to have been choked to death in Anaheim. Randy Lee Parkerson, 38, was later arrested and charged with murder.
For the year past, attacks on transgender women increased 38%, according to the 2013 Los Angeles County Hate Crimes report.
Sanchez grew up in Compton, but has lived outside the Los Angeles basin in recent years, in Las Vegas and Victorville. Why she was on the street in the Chesterfield Square neighborhood remains unknown.
"The murder of Ms. Sanchez is a stark reminder of the very real threats and systemic injustice members of marginalized communities face every day in this country," said Darrell Cummings, Chief of Staff at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. "We must stand together to put a stop to this hatred and violence. Every member of our community matters."