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‘Generous and caring’ gay bar patron dies after being punched by bouncer

Lily Wakefield May 4, 2022
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Eric Pope was punched and killed outside a Philadelphia gay bar

Eric Pope was punched and killed outside a Philadelphia gay bar. (Facebook/ Eric Pope)

A bouncer at a gay bar in Philadelphia is facing murder charges after punching and killing a gay patron Eric Pope.

Police said that on 16 April, Pope was visiting the Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, an LGBT+ venue in the city’s “Gayborhood“, but was escorted outside just before 1am “for being intoxicated”, according to The Standard-Times.

CCTV footage shows Pope, 41, who lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, dancing on the pavement outside before he is approached by the bouncer.

Officer Miguel Torres of the Philadelphia Police said that once he had escorted Pope outside, the bouncer returned and punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head.

When emergency services arrived, Pope was unresponsive and was rushed to hospital, but died from his injuries a week later, on 23 April.

On 27 April, Philadelphia police put out a warrant for the arrest of Kenneth Frye, 24, on a third degree murder charge. A day later, Frye turned himself in.

Local media has reported that the gay bar clarified Frye was not directly employed by them, but through a private security company, and that they were cooperating with the police investigation.

According to the Los Angeles Blade, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said in a statement: “A District Attorney’s Office victim/witness coordinator and member of the DAO LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee established contact with family members of the victim last week [days after he was hospitalised] and has been offering supportive services.”

Pope sat on the New Bedford School Committee and previously lived in Washington, DC, where he worked for the Obama administration.

New Bedford mayor Jon Mitchell wrote on Facebook: “I was shocked and saddened to learn this week of the tragic death of former New Bedford School Committee member Eric Pope.

“Eric was first elected to the committee in 2001 and was at the time the youngest person ever so elected. He served until 2010, and distinguished himself as a champion of our city’s school children and an ardent proponent of elevating academic standards.

“We are grateful for his public service and commitment to the city. I offer my condolences to his family at this difficult time, and hope that justice will be done in his name.”

Tony Cabral, a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, added: “I am saddened to share the tragic passing of my friend Eric Pope. Eric was a generous and caring friend and dedicated public servant for New Bedford.

“This is an immense loss for our community, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to know and work with Eric for so many years. He and his family are in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope those responsible for his death are brought to swift justice.”

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