LGBTQ - An unknown intruder fatally shot 39-year-old gay journalist Josh Kruger seven times “throughout the chest and abdomen” in his Point Breeze, Philadelphia townhouse early Monday morning.
Though Kruger had mentioned two recent incidents of harassment in his home, police are investigating. Kruger had written for LGBTQ Nation, The Philadelphia Citizen, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other publications.
Police responded to reports of gunshots and screams. Investigators determined that the shooting occurred around 1:28 a.m. inside Kruger’s home. When officers arrived, they found Kruger in the street outside of his residence. He was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. There, medical authorities pronounced him dead by 2:13 a.m., according to police reports.
“Either the [front] door was open, or the offender knew how to get the door open,” Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore told The Philadelphia Inquirer. Police found no weapons at the scene and have made no arrests, although the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
About two weeks ago, Kruger wrote in a friends-only Facebook post that “some idiot” identifying herself as “Lady Diabla, the She-Devil of the Streets” came to his home one morning, “screaming looking for their boyfriend, a man I’ve never once met in my entire life.”
“After a good half-hour show for the neighbors, this person apparently left after threatening to post leaflets everywhere that I am a homewrecker or some such,” Kruger wrote. “Whether actually and sincerely misinformed or just some attempt to harass and annoy at the behest of somebody else, regardless, I’m not particularly consumed with what people thought. It’s all going in the book though.”
In an August 23 Twitter post, Kruger wrote that someone threw a “heavy glass egg projectile” through his home’s front window, causing about $400 in damage. “It was seemingly a targeted act,” he wrote, asking his followers for assistance in identifying a black truck that fled the scene of the vandalism.
On his personal website, Kruger said that he worked for five years for the Philadelphia mayor’s social media platforms and policy campaigns, also acting as communications director and spokesperson for the city’s Office of Homeless Services. He regularly wrote personal articles, news, and features about his lived experience with homelessness, HIV, Philadelphia’s “street economy,” trauma, and poverty.
Over the last two years, Kruger wrote articles at LGBTQ Nation about anti-gay political attacks, poor box office showings for gay films, and the necessity for firearm reforms. His website also noted that he had been described as a “radical homosexual activist” and an “effeminate man-child” by critics.
In a statement about Kruger’s death, Bil Browning, executive editor of LGBTQ Nation’s parent company Q.Digital, wrote, “Josh embodied everything I value in a friend. He was thoughtful and kind. He was dedicated to championing the underdog and fighting for justice. He spoke his mind and he had no patience for bulls**t or broken promises. Josh overcame a lot of issues in his life like homelessness and addiction, and then spent the rest of it fighting for those still struggled.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner wrote, “Josh Kruger lifted up the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in our communities – particularly unhoused people living with addiction. As an openly queer writer who wrote about his own journey surviving substance use disorder and homelessness, it was encouraging to see Josh join the Kenney administration as a spokesperson for the Office of Homeless Services.”
“Josh deserved to write the ending of his personal story,” Krasner continued. “As with all homicides, we will be in close contact with the Philadelphia Police as they work to identify the person or persons responsible so that they can be held to account in a court of law. I extend my deepest condolences to Josh’s loved ones and to all those mourning this loss.”
In a separate statement, the District Attorney’s Office LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee wrote, “Even while Josh worked for the Mayor, he never stopped speaking out against police violence, politicized attacks on trans and queer people, or the societal discarding of homeless and addicted Philadelphians. We are devastated that Josh’s life was ended so violently.”
(Daniel Villarreal is a longtime journalist, webmaster of DanielVillarrealWrites.com and an educator who has written for Queerty, The Seattle Stranger, Vox, Slate and many other publications. This story was featured in LGBTQ Nation.)