A deputy with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office and was an LGBTQ activist was found dead at his desk on June 7. He was 27 years old.
Dante Austin, 27, who had been named the office's LGBTQ community liaison officer in 2017, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was found in his office, CBS Philly reported.
Austin, an Army veteran who was working in the Civil Enforcement Unit, was scheduled to be promoted to sergeant on July 1.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing police sources, said that Austin’s death appeared to be a suicide. Austin was found in the sheriff’s office, located at 11 South Broad Street. The Inquirer report said that Austin’s body was found at around 6:45 a.m.
“I don’t know where to go. My grieving process will begin once I accept it fully, which I have not done yet,” Austin’s former partner, Robert “Tito” Valdez, said at a vigil attended by about 100 people in his memory Friday at the William Way LGBT Community Center.
Amber Hikes, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said Austin had been her “inside man” on the workings of city departments, especially law enforcement.
“As a queer person of color, that was invaluable to me,” said Hikes. She said Austin had phoned her at 12:30 a.m. Friday, but she did not say what they talked about.
For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255