Bouncer at gay bar charged with murder for punching patron who hit his head on sidewalk

Video allegedly shows Kenneth Frye, 24, punching Eric Pope outside of the Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar on 16 April

Bevan Hurley
Friday 29 April 2022 19:20 BST
Bouncer at gay bar charged with murder for punching patron who hit his head on sidewalk

A bouncer at a Philadelphia gay bar is facing a third-degree murder charge after he punched an ejected patron who later died, police say.

Kenneth Frye, 24, of Philadelphia, surrendered at a city police station on Thursday afternoon, a day after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

The incident took place in front of the Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar shortly before 1am on 16 April.

Philadelphia police said Mr Frye struck Eric Pope, 41, an education and health public official, shortly after he was evicted from the bar for being intoxicated.

Video footage of the incident obtained by WTXF-TV shows Mr Pope being removed from the bar, then dancing on the sidewalk facing the retreating bouncer.

Friends have paid tribute to Eric Pope, 41, who died after being struck outside a Philadelphia gay bar
Friends have paid tribute to Eric Pope, 41, who died after being struck outside a Philadelphia gay bar (Instagram/Eric Pope)

Mr Pope then turns and walks toward the bouncer, who steps towards him and punches him in a sickening blow.

He fell to the ground, striking his head on the sidewalk. Paramedics arrived to find him unresponsive and rushed him to hospital, and he died a week later on 23 April.

Mr Pope was originally from Bedford Massachusetts, but had worked in Washington DC for several years in public policy and administration roles.

Close friend Kathy Dehner, a former councillor in New Bedford, told South Coast Today his death had left a “big void in the world”.

“There’s not a person that I know who would say a bad thing about him, and vice versa — Eric never talked ill of anyone. He had nothing but love in his heart.”

Bouncer Kenneth Frye has been arrested over the death of a man outside a Philadelphia gay bar
Bouncer Kenneth Frye has been arrested over the death of a man outside a Philadelphia gay bar (Philadelphia Police Department)

Mr Pope was the youngest person to serve on the New Bedford School Committee, being elected at the age of 20.

In a Facebook tribute, New Beford Mayor Jon Mitchell wrote that Mr Pope had “distinguished himself as a champion of our city’s school children”.

On Instagram, Mr Pope described himself as a “young professional, dog and wine lover, Democrat”.

WTXF-TV reported that the bouncer was employed by security contractors, Mainline Private Security, and did not work at the bar.

One of the bar’s owners, Jeffrey Sotland, told The Philadelphia Inquirer said in a statement that managers called 911 immediately when they learned what had happened and are cooperating in the investigation.

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