“Larger than life”: Vigil held for transgender man gunned down at Jacksonville motel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Family and friends held a vigil to honor a 33-year-old shot and killed on Youngerman Circle. Action News Jax has learned the victim was Semaj “Lita” Billingslea, family told us he was a transgender man.

Police say Billingslea was gunned down in a parking lot, shot multiple times and the family is seeking justice.

“This is a heinous crime that needs to be solved,” his father Tahlmage Billingslea said.


Loved ones say he lived life to the fullest, his father described him as the life of the party.

“The character of Semaj was larger than life and when you’re larger than life there’s always going to be haters,” Billingslea said. “There’s always this kind of thing that comes along when you’re out there and first to do something fully.”

Right now, there’s no word on whether this was a hate crime, we’ve reached out to JSO to see if Semaj’s gender transition had any role in the killing and are waiting to hear back.

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Close friend Iesha Bailey said they also wanted to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community.

“You never know, people will be rooting for you in your face then they’ll be hating on you behind your back so you have to be careful because a lot of people don’t like it,” she said.

The area where he was killed has seen some issues in the past, calls for service from JFRD show the agency has been called out to Youngerman circle at least 290 times just this year for several different reasons, many include assault, overdose and traumatic injuries. Last year it was about 441 times.

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With the shooting suspect still out there, Billingslea said the turnout at Friday’s vigil is a reminder how much he was loved.

“All this is love, this didn’t just happen, it didn’t happen overnight. This child was loved, so whoever did this you will see that somebody out here will see you, will know you, it will happen to you that you’ll be put in jail,” he said.

If you know anything about this deadly shooting, you’re urged to call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office or First Coast Crime Stoppers.

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