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Vigil remembers transgender woman gunned down in New Orleans East

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- A countdown preceded the release of dozens of balloons Thursday night into the New Orleans sky.  Many of the people even wrote their names or messages on the balloons, as if to send their love directly to Chyna Gibson, the transgender woman who was shot and killed last Saturday night.

The gathering was all part of a vigil to remember Gibson.  Her friends, family, and members of the LGBT community took turns speaking their hearts and spreading hope for justice as they passed along a flame, candle to candle.

So far, there is no arrest in the case or in the murder of another transgender woman named Ciara McElveen who was stabbed to death two days after Gibson was shot.

At this point, police do not have evidence that the murders are related.  Not only was one victim shot and the other stabbed, the attacks happened in different part of the city.

Darron Dequair was one of the organizers of Thursday night's vigil and a close friend of Gibson.

"This killing really took a toll on us, the LGBT community, because Chyna meant so much to us," Dequair said.  "We felt there was just a need to have this to bring awareness to all to what's happening in our community."

Many people at the vigil carried photos of Gibson or wore shirts with her picture.  One of Gibson's family members attending was Deborah Ross, her aunt.  She told WGNO News that while New Orleans is known for many things, it needs to change some of its reputation.

"New Orleans has been the fun city, the murder city.  But we need to love each other and just stop," Ross said.  "There's better things in life to do if you learn how to get along with people and stop hating.

At a news conference earlier in the week, New Orleans police said they did not believe the murders were hate crimes.  Anyone with information on who is responsible for the attacks is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111.