Alleged killer of gay man allegedly involved in recent city looting

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

This story has been updated with the correct bail amounts for both cases.

Kenneth Frye, the alleged murderer of Eric Pope, was arrested this week and charged with participating in the looting that recently beset the city.

Frye, 24, allegedly sucker-punched Pope outside Tabu Nightclub on April 16, 2022. At the time, Frye worked as a bouncer at Tabu. Pope was a beloved educator and member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Pope, 41, died a week later and Frye was charged with third-degree murder. In December 2022, a Philadelphia judge downgraded the charge to manslaughter but the District Attorney’s Office is appealing that ruling.

On Sept. 26, Frye allegedly burglarized a state-owned liquor store in West Philadelphia — along with another individual. The looting allegedly stemmed from a recent judicial ruling dismissing all charges against Mark Dial — a former police officer who killed a man during a traffic stop.

Frye had been out on $350,000 bail when he allegedly looted the liquor store.

Frye was arrested on Sept. 27 and the DA’s Office requested that bail be set at $999,999.00.  However, a municipal-court judge ruled that Frye could be released on $20,000 cash bail. The formal charges lodged against Frye are burglary and criminal trespass.

The Philadelphia Police Department released a narrative of the looting incident involving Frye. “Police responded to 3101 W. Girard Ave (Fine Wine & Good Spirits) for theft,” the narrative states. “Police observed Kenneth Frye and Kyreek Lark inside the business. Various bottles were stolen and broken. Also, the front security gate was lifted and the front door and windows were broken.”

Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the DA’s Office, said the office will seek revocation of Frye’s $350,000 bail for the Pope matter.

“On defendant Kenneth Frye’s new case, we requested he be held on $999,999 bail, citing the open case regarding Eric Pope,” Roh said in an email. “A magistrate set $250,000 Sign On Bond (which would mean immediate release, bail to be paid if he fails to appear at the next court listing). We appealed to the Municipal Court. A judge there set bail at $20,000. The assigned homicide prosecutor is filing a motion to have bail revoked on [Frye’s] first case as we believe a new arrest is a violation of that bail.”

The DA’s Office wants Frye to remain in jail until the Pope matter is adjudicated, Roh added.

Heather Pope, the mother of Eric Pope, issued the following statement: “We have lost our son, Eric Pope, forever. He was a wonderful man who, wherever he went, was doing good things for communities. I don’t understand how somebody who is facing prosecution for taking the life of my son can go out and be arrested for another crime while we are awaiting a higher court decision on the DA’s appeal to reinstate Third Degree Murder charges. I need to see justice for Eric, and for our family. I have had nothing but positive, consistent communication from the Philadelphia DA’s Office about what has been transpiring since this happened. It is my wish to see the defendant’s bail revoked, and for the DA’s appeal to receive a thorough and fair review by the Superior Court. We miss our son every day — his kind and beautiful love of life, of family and friends. How do we go on?” 

Zak T. Goldstein, an attorney for Pope, expressed sympathy for Pope’s family. 

“In general, I am very sorry for their loss,” Goldstein said in an email. “But the law is clear that one punch is not murder. The Commonwealth did not identify a single case holding otherwise in their briefs to the Superior Court. We look forward to oral argument in the appeal next month and to resolving the new allegations in court.”

Goldstein also reiterated that defendants are presumed to be innocent unless proven otherwise in a court of law. 

“Mr. Frye is presumed innocent in both matters,” Goldstein added. “We are investigating the new allegations and look forward to responding to them in court.”

Asa Khalif, a member of the District Attorney’s Office’s LGBTQ+ Liaison Committee, said he would prefer that Frye remain in jail until the Pope case is adjudicated. 

“In my opinion, he’s a danger to the LGBTQ+ community,” Khalif told PGN. “I don’t want him walking the streets. He could find his way back to the community and kill again.”

Newsletter Sign-up