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Matthew Shepard — Photo by Gina van Hoof
Matthew Shepard — Photo by Gina van Hoof

White House honors Matthew Shepard on 25th anniversary of his death
President Joe Biden on Thursday issued a statement marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the result of an anti-Gay hate crime that "shocked our nation and the world."

"Matthew's tragic and senseless murder shook the conscience of the American people," the president said. "And his courageous parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, turned Matthew's memory into a movement, galvanizing millions of people to combat the scourge of anti-LGBTQI+ hate and violence in America."

That work, Biden said, is far from finished, "as threats and violence targeting the LGBTQI+ community continue to rise," adding, "I once again call on Congress to send the Equality Act to my desk so that we can ensure LGBTQI+ Americans have full civil rights protections under our laws — because every American is worthy of dignity, acceptance and respect."

Biden noted his involvement, when vice president, in enacting the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama in 2009. It expanded federal hate crime laws to include those motivated by the victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

"This legislation is a lasting tribute to Matthew, a testament to the relentless advocacy of Judy and Dennis, and an important step forward for our country," Biden said. "I was proud to honor Judy and Dennis as uniters — Americans who stand against hate and heal our divides — at the United We Stand Summit here at the White House last year."

"God bless Judy, Dennis, and all those who are grieving and remembering Matthew today," he said.

Philadelphia police issue arrest warrant for suspect in Gay journalist's killing
The Philadelphia Police Department has issued an arrest warrant for 19-year-old South Philadelphia resident Robert Davis as a suspect in the October 2 killing of Gay journalist Josh Kruger, who was 39.

Lieutenant Hamilton Marshmond of the department's homicide unit told reporters from the Philadelphia Inquirer that the motive for the killing remains under investigation. According to Marshmond, it's unclear how Davis got into Kruger's home, which showed no signs of forced entry. He said video of Davis near the area at the time of the shooting, and tips from Kruger's friends and family about their earlier interactions, led investigators to him.

Kruger was gunned down late at night on October 2, suffering seven wounds to the chest and abdomen. Police believe Kruger was shot in his home and went outside to seek help. He was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died about 2:15 a.m.

Kruger, a former city employee and well-regarded journalist, had detailed his struggles with addiction, homelessness, and living with HIV. He had been in recovery from addiction for several years.

In the weeks before his death, Kruger detailed fraught interactions with a former partner who had gained entry to his home with a copy of his keys, a rock being thrown through his window, and a stranger who had entered his house looking for his former partner and threatened him.

Complicating the investigation, family members of Davis have told police and reporters that Kruger and Davis shared a sexual relationship since Davis was 15, and have claimed that the two used recreational drugs together. Police have told reporters that methamphetamines were found in Kruger's home on the night of his death and also that Kruger was trying to help the younger man.

Sources told the Inquirer that police found "disturbing" images on his phone, although it's not clear if they involve Davis. Relatives have also told the Inquirer that Kruger had threatened to post explicit videos of Davis online.

Lt. Marshmond said Davis was known to police and had been arrested before but declined to elaborate on officers' earlier interactions with him. Court records show that Davis was arrested in August and charged with criminal trespassing and mischief, but the District Attorney's Office withdrew the charges at a preliminary hearing the following month.

He warned that Davis "is considered armed and dangerous," and that anyone who sees him should not approach him but instead call 911. Police have set a $20,000 reward for information leading to Davis's arrest.

Damica Davis, Robert Davis's mother, told the Inquirer that if Davis is guilty of killing Kruger, nothing justifies it. "It's tragic what happened," she said, "but I feel like my son is a victim in this as well."