NCAVP mourns the death of Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman in Brooklyn, NY

NCAVP mourns the death of Nichelle Thomas, a 52-year-old Black queer woman who was fatally shot by her ex-girlfriend on April 21st in Brooklyn, NY. After the attack, which occurred just outside a Park Slope deli, Nichelle was quickly rushed to the hospital by authorities, where she was later pronounced dead. 

The attacker, Latisha Bell, was in a tumultuous relationship with Nichelle for “two decades.” They had been broken up for a few years, and those close to Nichelle report that Latisha had recently reentered her life before the shooting. Latisha turned herself in to the police and confessed to the killing merely hours after it happened – she is now facing charges of murder and weapon possession. In a court hearing, Brooklyn DA Wilfredo Cotto detailed the abusive and volatile nature of Nichelle and Latisha’s relationship, citing 13 domestic incident reports – 10 of which Latisha was the aggressor. Neighbors report that when the couple lived together, they’d fight often, ““Furniture was broken, pictures were broken … “they had disputes and fights on the regular, they did.”

A mother of two children, those who knew Nichelle are mourning her death online. An active member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, Rev. Anthony Trufant told NY Daily News, ““She was very, very active, very prominent and much beloved … She is someone who had an open heart and a listening ear and an open mind. She just exuded joy.” On Facebook, a churchgoer wrote: “My heart is truly broken this morning … R.I.P Nichelle Thomas. My Emmanuel Baptist Church sister. I will never understand the heart of cowardice killers. Temples of praise dance ministry wont be the same without you. #Devastated.”

NCAVP stands in solidarity with Black trans women, and we know that it is always hard to read these reports of violence against our communities. We know this can be even more painful when there continues to be an unchecked epidemic of homicides of Black trans women, as police violence is escalating against Black and brown people, and our nation continues to be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic that highlights long standing healthcare disparities for Black and brown communities. If you need support in these difficult times, you can always reach out to your local NCAVP member. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach our free bilingual national hotline at 212-714-1141 or report online for support.

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.