One transgender woman was shot to death while working as a security guard at Boise Towne Square Mall, Idaho. Her family says she took action that could have saved many lives.
According to a police report, Jo Acker (26 years old) confronted the shooter at the mall's first floor near a department shop. Jacob Bergquist (27), shot Acker and she later died at the scene. Roberto Padilla Arguelles (49), was also killed in the attack on Acker's mall. At least four others were hurt. Bergquist was arrested Monday and later died. Police said that there had been a gunfight with him.
According to Ackers' siblings and partner, she was a hero. She ran towards Bergquist in an attempt to stop him. She was confronting him. Ray Dawn, Ackers partner for nearly three years, said that she was helping people get out of harm's way. She was helping people and saving their lives, I was told. ... She would have wanted everyone to be safe. She would have been the one to confront someone.
Tiffany Luna, Acker's oldest sister, said that confronting someone she considered a threat or bully was part of her character before she enlisted. Acker, who lived in Colorado Springs for a while, was a forward artillery observer as well as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army. Luna said that people have been messaging Luna to tell her how she helped them and how they saved them. We are grateful for all the love and support we receive.
Shawna Lee Lanigan, Shawna's sister, posted on Facebook: I cannot even describe how devastated and heartbroken I feel. Jo, you were so kind and loving. You always had a huge heart of gold. Your keeper was always someone I felt I could trust. I wanted to protect you as much as you wanted to protect me. You are, and will always be, a hero. You are my hero to the end of the earth and beyond. You will always be remembered as a hero. You will be missed by me until we meet again.
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Dawn stated that Acker hates bullies the most in the Statesman interview. Dawn also said that she would see anyone in trouble, no mater how awkward or uncomfortable it might be. Dawn added that she would stop doing whatever she was doing to ensure that the other person is safe.
She was not serious, however. Dawn stated that Acker was one of my most eccentric and quirky friends. She was also a proud nerd who enjoyed playing games like World of Warcraft. Kevin Goncalves served with Acker in the Army in Italy and Latvia. He also spoke of her enthusiasm for videogames and willingness to help new recruits. He told the Statesman that he wasn't surprised she was a hero.
Goncalves stated that she stood up for others when they were being disrespected. Even when it meant trouble, she stood up for what was right. Jo was always a character I admire.
Acker was blessed with a 3-year old daughter, Everay. To raise funds for Everay's support, the family created a GoFundMe campaign. (Editor's Note: The GoFundMe misgenders Acker.
Bergquist was known to police and mall employees. He had been a troublemaker at the shopping center in the past. In April, he arrived at the Idaho Capitol with a semiautomatic pistol in hand and a camera. He identified himself as a felon saying he wanted to interview Governor. According to Boise State Public Radio, Brad Little discussed whether felons should have the right to own firearms. Although he was legally allowed to own guns, it is not clear if he had legal permission to acquire the weapon or weapons he used Monday.
Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement at the Human Rights Campaigns Transgender Justice Initiative, spoke out about the violence against trans people Acker is 42nd to be killed by violent means in the U.S.A this year, and also the tragedies that are associated with guns.
Cooper stated in a press release that losing another sister to violence in the transgender community is heartbreaking and frustrating. It is alarming to see the senseless violence that is being committed against our community. However, it is alarming that there is no comprehensive gun control legislation. This puts all communities in immediate risk. We must draw attention not only to the alarming rate of transgender fatal violence but also to the urgent need for gun control laws that will protect all communities.