Bouncer at Tabu faces murder charge

Kenneth Frye (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Police Department) punched Eric Pope outside Tabu in April 2022. Pope died a week later.

Kenneth Frye, a bouncer who worked at Tabu Nightclub earlier this month and allegedly killed Eric Pope after escorting the gay man out of Tabu due to intoxication, is being charged with murder.

On April 27, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced that it’s charging Frye with third-degree murder. Frye, 23, surrendered to police at 2:20 p.m. April 28.

According to police, around 12:50 a.m. April 16 Frye escorted Pope out of Tabu due to intoxication. Video surveillance shows Pope dancing along South 12th Street in front of Tabu shortly before Frye punches him in the head. Pope fell unconscious onto the street and was transported to Jefferson University Hospital in critical condition. He died a week later.

At the time he allegedly murdered Pope, Frye worked for Mainline Private Security LLC based in Center City.

Numerous LGBTQ+ advocates called for Frye to be arrested and charged with murder. But District Attorney Lawrence S. Krasner promised to act methodically prior to determining what charges should be lodged against Frye.

A representative of Mainline Security issued this statement about Frye: “The independent contractor security officer involved in the alleged altercation on April 16, 2022, in the area of Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar has no criminal record. He also was Certified as having completed all requirements of Regulation 9-3700 of the Philadelphia Bouncer Ordinance.”

Pope, 41, lived in Washington, D.C. and was visiting friends at the time of his injuries. According to published reports, he served on the school board for New Bedford, Mass., and also worked at the Federal Reserve. Friends described him as a diminutive, gentle soul. 

A spokesperson for Krasner issued this 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 and has been offering supportive services. The DAO is additionally aware of reports of troubling interactions involving private security workers at Gayborhood establishments. We encourage members of the public who wish to share information with authorities that could lead to additional criminal investigations to contact the Philadelphia Hate Crimes Hotline: 215-686-8913.”

A vigil in honor of Pope was held April 27 at Kahn Park in the Gayborhood.

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