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LGBTQ+ Advocate Killed In Trenton Shooting Was Protecting Loved One, Friends Say

Shaquil Loftin, aka Shai Vanderpump, was shot and killed by Daniel L. Smith in Trenton, authorities said.
Shaquil Loftin, aka Shai Vanderpump, was shot and killed by Daniel L. Smith in Trenton, authorities said. Photo Credit: Shai Vanderpump Facebook photo/Mercer County Prosecutor's Office

A 23-year-old LGBTQ+ advocate was shot and killed last Friday in Trenton, with their killer in custody as of Monday morning, authorities said.

Shaquil Lofti was found with gunshot wounds in their face in a house on Kelsey Avenue around 4:40 a.m., Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said. They were transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead a short time later.

The accused gunman, Daniel L. Smith, 36, was arrested in a traffic stop the following day, authorities said. He is charged with one count of murder and multiple weapons offenses. The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Smith pending trial.

A GoFundMe page in honor of Loftin, also known as Shai Vanderpump, had raised more than $6,300 as of Aug. 2.

The campaign was launched by Hollie Flowers, who said Loftin was "protecting his loved one" when they were shot.

"Shaquil was affectionately known for his Smile, his Style, his love of family, and most importantly, BEING HIMSELF!," Flowers writes. 

"Shai as he was affectionately called had a heart of GOLD & He will give you his last no matter what he had. He loved to see everyone happy & smile. He loved life, He protected everyone he loved & left here being a Super Hero!

"Shaquil loved to Dress, smile, and see everyone happy & smiling. He was murdered doing what he was taught to do! He loved family."

Detectives continue to investigate what prompted the attack. 

The case remains under investigation for potential bias charges as Loftin is transgender and identified as female. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dave Petelle 609-989-6406.

Tips can also be emailed to mchtftips@mercercounty.org.

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