Philadelphia's First Openly Gay Deputy Sheriff Commits Suicide Before Pride Parade

Dante Austin, the first openly gay deputy sheriff in Philadelphia, was found dead at his desk inside of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office on Friday, June 7 at the age of 27. According to reports, Austin committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot wound just before the city’s Pride parade was set to begin.
Austin was a veteran of the United States military, serving in the U.S. Army. He was set to be promoted before he took his own life, according to authorities.
He served as the sheriff office’s first LGBTQ community liaison.
“Dante was a person who believed in and cared about everybody,” Sheriff Jewell Williams said in a statement issued on Facebook. “He had the highest score on the Deputy Sheriff’s exam when he was hired in November 2013. He was our first openly gay deputy sheriff and we promoted him to become our first LGBTQ community liaison in May 2017. Dante was scheduled to be promoted to Sergeant on July 1, 2019.”
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At the time of his death, Austin was working to complete his master’s degree in public administration from West Chester University.
“Friends, I am destroyed and heartbroken by the news that ripped through our community this morning,” Amber Hikes, executive director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, wrote on her Facebook page.
“Our beautiful Dante was a powerful force and a loving friend, beloved by our communities and by me personally. We will be feeling the devastation of this loss in every corner of our work, celebration, and love. It is nearly impossible to put into words how much he meant to all of us.”
Our deepest condolences are with the family and friends of Austin as they deal with this incredibly difficult and tragic time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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