Dante Austin, Philadelphia’s first openly gay deputy sheriff, was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“This is a tragedy for the sheriff’s office, Deputy Austin’s family and the local LGBTQ community,” Sheriff Jewell Williams said. “We send our deepest condolences to Dante’s family, and the many colleagues and community members whose lives he touched with his limitless kindness, expansive heart, and remarkable talent.”
A rainbow-colored flag flew at half-staff at City Hall Friday (June 7) after news circulated of the 27-year-old’s unexpected death.
Austin, who was a U.S. Army Veteran, scored the highest on the deputy sheriff’s exam when he was hired in November 2013. Austin then moved up the ranks and became a sergeant on July 1.
“Dante worked tirelessly, always, to lift up the most marginalized among us, to secure safety and protection for the most vulnerable, and to serve his community with unparalleled dedication and a warmth and generosity that moved so many of us,” the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs said.
“Dante’s legacy is one of boldness, bravery, compassion, and an unfailing commitment to a kinder and more just world for all. As we move forward in mourning and honoring our friend and colleague, may we cherish and celebrate the ways he changed us, improved our city, and protected and saved lives.”