Atlanta police on high alert after 2 Black trans women shot to death a week apart

ATLANTA — Police are working to determine if the murders of two Black transgender metro Atlanta women a week apart are hate crimes.

Friends and family shared photos of Koko Williams and Ashley Burton, who were both shot and killed earlier this month.

Channel 2′s Justin Carter was on MLK Drive Friday, where police just released video of a man who may know something.

Carter showed the footage on Channel 2 Action News at 4 p.m.

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Williams, 35, was shot to death on MLK on Tuesday night. On Friday afternoon, police released surveillance video of a man in a red #2 jersey who they believe may have information that could help them solve the murder.

Rashad Williams told Carter that his best friend, Koko, had called him shortly before she was shot. He didn’t see the call until the next day.

“I called her like 20 - 25 times, like, ‘Damn, why isn’t she answering her phone,’” Williams said.


He said he was heartbroken to find out she’d been killed.

Her sister, Akeyia Williams, said she was a rising musician with one song that is soon going to be featured on Showtime’s hit show, “The Chi.”

“All she talked about was making a way for me and my siblings and my mother,” Akeyia Williams said.

Koko’s murder marks the second in just a week involving Black transgender women.

Last Tuesday, friends said 37-year-old Ashley Burton was shot and killed outside of an apartment complex on Fairburn Road.

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Activist Stasha Sanchez said Black trans women are being targeted.

“We’re some really strong people,” Sanchez said. “But we’re also always targeted, and I think that is something that is very important for the world to know that. You don’t have to target us.

In a statement, Atlanta police said they’re investigating a third shooting that critically injured a Black transgender woman in January on Highland Ave.

They said there is no reason to believe any of the cases are connected, but understand the widespread concern.

Anyone who recognizes the man in the surveillance video is asked to call police.