HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Candles, flags and posters adorned the front steps outside of Houston City Hall Thursday night to honor a 29-year-old woman killed in her own home.
"She had just moved into her new apartment and was very excited about decorating," said the victim's friend, Gia Pacheco.
Paloma Vazquez, a transgender woman, was found shot inside her Gulfton-area apartment on Houston's southwest side on Saturday. Police said there was no sign of forced entry into her apartment at 6600 Dunlap, and that she was shot twice.
"Whenever a trans person is killed, they are killed because they are trans," said Pacheco.
The Organization for Latina Trans in Texas said Vazquez had only just immigrated to the U.S. six months ago from Latin America.
ORIGINAL STORY: Transgender woman found dead with multiple gunshot wounds in southwest Houston apartment, HPD says
"As most trans women who are here from Latina America, they are here because they are scared of being killed in their own country," said Pacheco.
"There's a lot of transphobia in Latin America," said another friend, Valentin Terrazas. "They come here for refuge and to better their lives and have a future here."
Vazquez is the latest in a string of recent killings of trans women in Houston.
Iris Santos, 22, was shot and killed as she sat outside a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on Westheimer in April 2021.
SEE ALSO: Mother of murdered Houston trans woman hopes for justice
"We're here to represent them and to continue to fight for them," said Terrazas.
Police are still searching for the gunmen in both of the murders. The group demands justice and respect.
"We exist. We pay taxes. We pay bills. We built this country too, the transgender people, and we need respect," said another friend Tayze Duarte.
Police have not been able to locate the next-of-kin for Vazquez.
If you know anything about her murder, you can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 713-222-TIPS (8477).
For more on this story, follow Shelley Childers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.