The Georgia LGBT community is in mourning this week after learning a 17-year-old Atlanta transgender woman was murdered in Athens.
Ava Le’Ray Barrin was shot and killed on Sunday by an acquaintance named Jalen Breon Brown, but police aren’t sure what led to the shooting.
According to Human Rights Campaign, Barrin is the 14th known murder of a transwoman this year. Nearly all of the women, including Barrin, were black.
Barrin, who was mis-gendered and identified as Rayquann Deonte Jernigan in early media reports, was shot once in the chest at about 11:45 a.m. on June 25 during a fight with Brown in the Riverview Apartments complex on College Avenue. Brown was quickly arrested and remains in jail without bond, facing murder and aggravated assault charges, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. Brown, who is also a transwoman, claims she shot Barrin in self-defense.
Epifanio Rodriguez, spokesman for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, told the Banner-Herald the shooting occurred as an argument escalated, and police “do not believe Brown’s self-defense claim based on witness interviews and evidence collected at the scene,” but Rodriguez would not elaborate further.
“We don’t want to go into it any further because detectives are still speaking to witnesses,” Rodriguez said.
During the June 27 Atlanta Pride Grand Marshal Reception, grand marshal Jamie Roberts — an attorney and trans activist — held a moment of silence in Barrin’s honor.
According to an online obituary, Barrin was described as “a ‘young, full of life, beautiful soul’” who “feared nothing, nobody and especially not being herself.”
The author of the obituary called Barrin “unapologetically real.”
“I’m writing this obituary as a sort of final send-off to a young lady who was and will remain my beautiful angel. A girl who gave me the strength and the courage to find myself; who I was meant to be and what I loved to do in life. I remember a girl who loved to make people laugh; do the absolute stupidest shit one could imagine and still find a way to make it funnier than it actually was,” the obituary states. “She was an amazing girl who didn’t deserve to die, especially not the way she did. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Ava was that she’d be friend just about anyone — as long as you were nice to her in return.”