OAKLAND, Calif. - An early Friday morning shooting in Oakland leaves a transgender woman dead. A friend said she's devastated by the loss.
The shooting marks Oakland's 129th homicide so far this year.
"Nikai was really sweet. She was a happy, fun person,"
Ashlee Banks said she is saddened that Nikai David of Hayward, a friend she considered to be a sister, was shot and killed.
"I was really devastated when I found out, when I got the news," said Banks.
Police said just after 4 a.m., officers responded to a shooting on Castro Street in West Oakland and found Nikai, a transgender woman, suffering from a gunshot wound.
She died at the scene.
Police said at this point there is no evidence of a hate crime.
"I know there was some type of physical altercation that led to my sister getting shot in her head," Banks said she has no idea why anyone would want to harm Nikai.
"In general, people are ready to attack transgender people, just because they're transgender," Joe Hawkins, co-founder and CEO of Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, said transgender homicides are on the rise.
Human Rights Campaign-a nonprofit, said 2021 is now the deadliest year on record for transgender homicides nationwide.
Hawkins said Black and Latinx transgender women make up the majority of the victims.
He said discrimination in housing and employment are factors putting their lives at risk.
"The people who kill them feel that they're not worthy.
Who's gonna care," said Hawkins, "Black transgender people deserve and need the support that they have not been given."
Banks shared with KTVU cell phone video of Nikai and her dancing. She described her friend as fun-loving and considerate: someone who went out of her way to help others.
The model and aspiring social media influencer just turned 33 last Saturday.
"To the people who harmed her, i just hope that justice is served," Banks said she last spoke with Nikai on her birthday with hopes of having dinner together soon, a belated celebration that will never happen.
She said Nikai wanted to open a clothing boutique-a dream unfulfilled.
Police have not said what a motive is for the killing.
No one has been arrested.