A man is accused of murdering a 24-year-old transgender woman he was in a relationship with, as Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen filed charges on the suspect on Tuesday.

A Union City resident and prosecutor charged 22-year-old Elijah Cruz Segura with allegedly stabbing the victim, Natalia Smut Lopez, to death. The victim is a Black and Puerto Rican transgender woman from San Jose. authorities said the crime occurred in Milpitas and could give Segura a life sentence.

Anti-transgender Violence

“Our hearts go out to Natalia’s loved ones. We are committed to getting justice for our community against those who commit domestic violence and violence against transgender and non-binary people,” said Rosen.

Segura called 911 on April 23 at about 2:29 a.m., reporting about Lopez’s injuries and admitting he was responsible. Police sent officers to the area and discovered the victim on the ground with “multiple stab wounds.” The couple was found at a 1000 block of Hillview Court residence.

The DA’s office said Segura was seen with blood on both of his hands and was immediately arrested on the scene and booked into Santa Clara County jail. Authorities quickly transported Lopez to a hospital who was declared dead on arrival.

The victim’s best friend since they were young, Kiara Ohlde, said Lopez was a caring and loving individual. They said the victim “really cared about people, even when were younger, and she was always a performer and always been so talented,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The incident marks Lopez as the 16th victim of anti-transgender violence in the United States in 2021. The Human Rights Campaign tracked murders of transgender people since 2013 said there were 44 fatalities last year. The group called 2020 “the most violent year on record.”

“The senseless violence against transgender and non-binary people in our communities must stop, and more protections and advocacy are needed. We encourage the community to check in with your queer family and friends to show your support and care for their well-being,” the organization said.