Police say 20-year-old Rico LeBlond shot and killed Zella Ziona, whose legal name was DeAndre Smith, on Oct. 15, because Ziona “began acting flamboyantly towards LeBlond and greatly embarrassed Leblond in front of his peers,” according to charging documents obtained by CBS affiliate WUSA.
Investigators wrote in the document that the suspect and victim has been engaged in a “simmering dispute that had been escalating” as a result of their friendship becoming public. LeBlond is suspected of shooting Ziona multiple times in the head and groin. Police are considering hate crime charges against LeBlond, who is already facing a first degree murder charge.But the victim’s family tells WUSA that they’re already convinced the motive was hate.
“I do believe in my heart that this was a hate crime,” said Kalany Thomas, Ziona’s aunt.