WILKINSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – A family and community are grieving the loss of their loved ones and hoping for answers.

On New Year’s morning, police found Amariey Lej shot to death in Wilkinsburg.

“She was the presence in the room,” said Amariey’s cousin Erin Perry. “Just by stature, she was a tall person, 6-foot-2, maybe.”

But it wasn’t Amariey’s height that captured everyone’s attention. Perry says it was her positive spirit.

(Photo: Provided)

“Just a very vibrant light and a very joyful life,” said Perry. “Always ready to create, always ready to dance, always ready to make up a dance.”

Whether she was dancing with the Lady Diamonds team in Pittsburgh or working with the youth, Perry says Lej always brought out the best in people.

“Just this reminder to be yourself, love who are, shine your light, and you have the permission to do so,” said Perry.

It was advice 19-year-old Amariey was truly going to live by in 2022.

“She recently made the decision to transition herself and had just made the decision to really embrace who she’s always known herself to be,” said Perry.

READ MORE: Police: Female Victim Found Shot Dead, Lying On A Street In Wilkinsburg

Perry says this year signified freedom for Amariey after such a troubling past. Perry says Amariey made headlines in 2017 after she was assaulted by a Woodland Hills High School resource officer. She was thrown against the wall and her teeth were knocked out.

Perry says, tragically, she was attacked again.

This time police found Amariey shot to death on Wood Street in Wilkinsburg on New Year’s morning.

“It was so challenging to receive the news because I didn’t want to believe it happened,” said Perry. “This is a person I know and love, and to just imagine their life gone and the way it happened, is hard to accept.”

Perry says unlike other crimes involving Black transgender victims, she wants this one solved.

“It’s my hope that within our community that this will be a different scenario and that there will be answers,” said Perry. “We will know who did this and that justice is served.”

And while the investigation continues, Perry says Amariey’s legacy will live on.

“I want for Amariey to know that her impact on this earth was earth-shattering, earth-moving,” said Perry. “Everywhere she went, the light was present and everyone felt it. We will love you forever and we will always say your name.”

If you have any information regarding this incident, contact the Allegheny County police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

Amariey’s family is holding a balloon release Wednesday at 4:30 at the corner of Wood and Susquehanna streets in Wilkinsburg.