Akira Ross, 24, was pumping gas at a station in Cedar Park last week when she was shot and killed by a man she didn’t know, according to the Cedar Park Police Department. Ross was pronounced dead at the scene.
The suspected shooter, identified as 23-year-old Bradley Stanford, fled the scene but was later arrested Sunday (June 4) on charges of first-degree murder.
Ross' partner and father believe she was targeted because she was gay. Stanford allegedly yelled gay slurs at Ross before the shooting, they said.
"It was a hate crime," Ross’ father, Anthony Hill, told the Austin American-Statesman. "She didn't know him. She gets out of the car, and he starts calling her gay slurs for no reason."
According to police, “there was some sort of verbal exchange between Stanford and Ross in the parking lot outside her car before Stanford allegedly fatally shot Ross and fled the scene in his vehicle.” Authorities haven't released many other details about the shooting.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched to help Ross' family with funeral costs.
“Akiara was the victim of a shooting in Cedar Park for the sole reason of being queer,” the fundraiser reads. “I’m asking for the community and allies to come together in order to support the loss of our LGBTQIA+ sibling. This loss comes so quickly into the beginning of our month where most can feel at liberty to be free and to be [themselves].”