Unique BanksAge 20
23 Jan 2023
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Unique and her mother were fatally shot during a home invasion in Chicago. Two other trans women and her mother's boyfriend were also critically injured in the mass shooting.
Unique Banks, a 21-year-old Latinx transgender woman, was fatally shot during a home invasion in Chicago Monday.
Banks’s mother, Alexsandra Olmo, was also killed in the invasion of the family’s apartment, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Three other people — Olmo’s boyfriend and two trans women — were seriously wounded, a law enforcement source told the paper. They are hospitalized in critical condition. The source added that there was no evidence of anti-trans motivation, although police said the attack was not random.
But Banks’s father, Omar Burgos, said many questions remain. “Nobody just goes to your house and just starts killing people,” Burgos, who lives in Orlando, told the Sun-Times. “Something happened, but what happened? I don’t know.”
He said he worried about Banks and her two siblings after he moved to Florida, where he is a mechanic for American Airlines, more than a decade ago. He had hoped she would come to Florida to live with him, he said, noting that his “heart is torn apart.”
The Chicago Police Department released a statement saying the department “is still investigating this incident and will provide additional information after speaking with people close to the victims, out of respect for the victims and their families.”
Banks’s death is at least the third violent killing of a trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person in the U.S. this year. The Human Rights Campaign pointed out that there is not only an epidemic of violence against this population but also an epidemic of gun violence. There have been 40 mass shootings in the nation in 2023, with a mass shooting defined as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the person wielding the gun, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
“Unique Banks was just 21 years old, and she was killed in a horrific mass shooting that also targeted her family and friends,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a press release. “The rate of gun violence in this country is out of control. It tears families apart and leaves communities grieving and traumatized. We know from other countries that tighter gun laws work to dramatically reduce firearm-related deaths. Lawmakers must act to end the violence.”
Banks is also at least the 13th transgender or gender-nonconforming person killed in Chicago, the most in any city, since HRC began tracking this information in 2013.
Equality Illinois released a statement on the shooting as well, writing, “We call on the Mayor to take immediate action and ensure resources are allocated to support the victims and their families and to find answers to these heinous acts of violence. The time is now to end systemic racism and transphobia so that we may pursue dignity for those who are no longer with us and for those whose lives hang in the balance.”
Three dats after the shooting, police identified and arrested a 19-year-old suspect. However, they have so far declined to press charges.
Prosecutors have declined to charge a man identified as the person who burst into a South Shore apartment last month and opened fire during an apparent robbery attempt, killing a mother and her transgender daughter and wounding three others, including two other trans women.
Late on Jan. 26, three days after the mass shooting, Chicago police executed a warrant at the same apartment complex in the 2900 block of East 78th Street where the 19-year-old suspect also lives, according to an arrest report obtained through a public records request.
He had been identified in photo lineups as the person who forced his way into the apartment, demanded cash and shot the five victims, according to the report. He was arrested but ultimately released from custody on Jan. 29. The Sun-Times isn’t identifying the suspect because he hasn’t been charged with a crime.
The arrest report shows felony charges weren’t brought by prosecutors and the case was marked as a continuing investigation. It was kicked back to police “pending further investigation.”
A spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office said prosecutors “did not approve or reject charges” in the case. “After a review of the initial information brought to us by CPD, we informed police that additional evidence was needed before a final charging decision could be made,” the spokesperson said. A police spokesperson would only say the investigation remains “open and active.”
The suspect has two pending cases in Cook County court, a felony count of residential burglary and a misdemeanor count of domestic battery, records show. A police report for the mass shooting shows two people “kicked in the front door and began shooting” about 1:40 p.m. on Jan. 23. A witness told investigators that two males ran north from the scene wearing green camouflage.
Unique's Facebook profile is https://www.facebook.com/unique.banks.969.