Ke'Yahonna Stone was shot at Castle Run Shopping Center's Epic Ultra Lounge parking lot in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the early morning hours of Dec. 26. She was taken to the hospital and died Dec. 28 after two days on life-support.
Stone, who was 32 at the time of her death, was out with friends on Christmas evening when she was fatally wounded from the gunshot. She was at least the 51st recorded trans, non-binary or gender nonconforming person to be killed in 2021the deadliest year on record for that community.
According to reports from other media outlets, Stone was in the midst of breaking up a fight when she was shot. Family members told this publication that this was the way Stone handled any combative situation. She was always trying to calm things down so they would not get more violent.
Stone was born February 22, 1989, in Indianapolis, where spent the majority of her childhood. She attended Brown Mackie College in Indianapolis for two years and then worked at warehouse jobs in Indianapolis and Chicago.
An advocate for LGBTQ safe spaces, Stone had just moved back to her hometown and was about to start a new job at Trans Solutions Research & Resource Center.
Stone is survived by her mother, Leshelle Stone; her father, Brian Jones; her brother, Che Stone; and sisters LaTroya Rucker and Sophia Stone.
"She was a loyal often misunderstood person," said friend and Trans Solutions Research & Resource Center Founder Marissa Miller." She had a heart of gold, you never had to wonder what was on my Niecey Poo's mind, cause she was going to let it be known. She was growing and I could not wait to see her fully Blossom. Fly high butterfly you now have your wings."
"Ke'Yahonna, affectionately called Yaya by her friends, was a fierce protector of her family and friends," said longtime friend Jashay Rogers. "Loyalty was never a question when it came to Yaya and under her tough exterior was a heart of gold that only craved to love who loved her and bring joy and laughter to those around her. For her life to be taken while protecting a friend and trying to alleviate an altercation is a pure example of how strong and loyal a friend she was. Yaya was growing as a woman and an activist for the trans community. Yaya will be remembered for her strong soul, keeping it real attitude and a laugh that warmed your heart. She will be missed."
"Yaya was one of the realest, most loyal people I have ever met," said longtime friend Dometreece (Meechee) Lang. "She seemed tough on the outside but inside she was so sweet and had a good heart."
At the time of this publication, the Indianapolis Police Department was still investigating this incident.
A balloon release celebration of Stone's life took place Jan. 9 at the Indianapolis apartment complex where she lived and another event honoring Stone reportedly happened Jan. 7 at 2361 Broad Ripple Ave.
The memorial service will take place Friday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m-1 p.m., at The Jewel Event Center, 3333 N. Illinois St., in Indianapolis. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, masks are mandatory for admittance.