Bouncer faces murder charge for punching ejected bar patron

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A bouncer at a Center City gay bar turned himself in to police Thursday afternoon and is set to be charged with third-degree murder after allegedly punching an ejected bar patron who later died.

The victim, 41-year-old Eric Pope from Washington, D.C., struck his head on the sidewalk after the bouncer punched him, a police statement said, adding that Pope had been escorted out of the bar for being intoxicated.

Kenneth Frye Philadelphia Police Department

Deputy Police Commissioner Ben Naish told reporters on Wednesday the arrest warrant had been issued in the case. Police later identified the suspect as 24-year-old Kenneth Frye of North Philadelphia.

“It’s disturbing anytime there’s an unprovoked attack,” said Naish, adding he had not heard of previous complaints about the people doing security for the gay bar, and declined to comment on the circumstances.

The episode took place in front of the Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar shortly before 1 a.m. on April 16, officials said. The victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition and died Saturday, police said.

Video posted by WTXF-TV shows a man being hustled outside, then dancing on the sidewalk facing the retreating bouncer. The man turns to face the street and, still dancing, approaches a vehicle and appears to reach toward it, then turns and walks toward the bouncer, who steps quickly toward him and punches him.

One of the bar’s owners, Jeffrey Sotland, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the bouncer was not an employee of the bar and was from an outside security company. The bar also noted in a statement that the episode did not take place on its property. Officials say managers called 911 immediately when they learned what had happened and are cooperating in the investigation.

It’s unclear whether Frye has an attorney; a listed number for him could not be found Wednesday.

Metro reporter Jack Tomczuk contributed to this report. 

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