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Transgender woman killed in shooting outside JBS plant in Butchertown called 'kind' and 'happy'

A colleague and friend of Imanitwitaho Zachee confirmed with WHAS11 News Sunday, Zachee was a trans woman and always had a smile on her face.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The woman shot and killed outside the JB Swift (JBS) plant in Butchertown Friday was identified by the Jefferson County Coroner as Imanitwitaho Zachee, though her friends just called her "Zachee."

A coworker of Zachee, who asked WHAS11 News not to share her name, told us Zachee always had a smile on her face. 

"She was always happy. Always walking down the hallways smiling," Zachee's coworker said. "Even when she knew they were talking about her, she didn't care. She was always happy."

The coworker described her shock to hear that Zachee was shot and killed in the JBS parking lot. She was working on the line inside JBS when she was informed of the tragedy and ran outside to see LMPD and a black barrier around Zachee’s body.

"She was a very kind person, always loving people and helping people," Zachee's close friend, Eric Semuhungu, said. "I was like 'who does that?' My mind was blowing up. May she rest in peace."

Edilberto Lores-Reyes, 58, has been charged with Zachee's murder after police said he went to the jail and confessed.

LMPD's Matt Sanders said he was taken in by detectives with the department's Homicide Unit and interviewed. The citation said the gun used in the shooting was inside Lores-Reyes' vehicle which was parked outside Metro Corrections.

Employees at JBS informed police both the suspect and victim were employed at the facility. Police say surveillance video captured the shooting.

Lores-Reyes has not been charged with a hate crime. However, the employee and friend of Zachee we spoke with said it should be considered, "Because everyone knew she was [transgender]."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) calls murders of transgender people an epidemic. In 2022, the HRC reports there were 34 victims of fatal violence, and majority of those victims were black transgender women. 

"This is another [transgender] murder victim, another Black [Transgender] woman whose life has been ended prematurely," Chris Hartman, with the Fairness Campaign, said. "The message we have to send is that you are so loved, that there is a community fighting so that you will be respected."

While we don't know what lead the shooter to kill Zachee. We are learning more about her. 

Zachee's coworker, and additional people who knew her, tell WHAS11 News she was born and lived in Rwanda before coming to the United States. 

Semuhungu said all Zachee wanted in life was to be truly herself.

"I hope she gets justice because no one deserves that," he said. "She came to America, the land of opportunity, for a better life. Sadly, she didn't make it." 

JBS released a statement following Zachee's death.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our Louisville team members that took place outside of our facility on Friday afternoon. Our sincere condolences go out to the individual’s family and loved ones. We are assisting police with the ongoing investigation however we can."

A GoFundMe has been started to help Zachee's family cover funeral expenses.

WHAS11 News is actively working to gather more information on this story.

 Contact reporter Tom Lally at TLally@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter.  


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