Family of Texas Woman Killed Says Shooting was a Hate Crime


A man police say gunned down a woman outside an Austin-area gas station last week has been charged with murder, and the woman's family says the killing should be investigated as a hate crime as she was targeted because she was gay.

Akira Ross, 24, was fatally shot Friday night while she pumped gas in Cedar Park, 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Austin, according to the Cedar Park police. She died at the gas station, and the shooter fled in a vehicle.

Cedar Park police identified Bradley Stanford, 23, as the suspected shooter. He was arrested Sunday in Inglewood, Texas, near Corpus Christi, more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) away from where the shooting happened.

Stanford was being held in the San Patricio County Jail on one count of murder before he was transferred Wednesday to Williamson County, officials confirmed. The San Patricio County Sheriff's Office said an attorney is not yet listed for Stanford.

Police have not said what might have led to the shooting, and a spokeswoman for Cedar Park police declined comment Wednesday.

But Ross' partner and her father both told the Austin American-Statesman that Stanford yelled gay slurs before opening fire. Ross' partner said she recorded part of the confrontation on her phone and that she gave her phone to Cedar Park police.

Anthony Hill, Ross' father, told the American-Statesman that what witnesses who saw the killing told him makes him believe bigotry was the motivation and that "it was a hate crime."

Cedar Park police have said only that Stanford and Ross exchanged words before the shooting.

"Our initial investigation revealed Stanford and Ross did not know each other," Cedar Park police said in a statement.

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