The brutal murder of Chattanooga pastor David Strong, allegedly at the hands of a mentally disturbed man and his 16-year-old cousin, might be more than just a ATM robbery gone wrong. Strong might’ve been gay, say police, and that could have been a motivating factor.
Strong, a pastor at St. Paul AME Church, was beaten, stabbed, and strangled before his throat was slit — allegedly at the hands of Antonio Henry, 25, and cousin Brendan Barnes. His body was found his home Sunday, days after his murder. Henry’s rap sheet is disturbing: charges of pulling out a girl’s braids; swinging a crow bar at a man’s head. He twice tried committing suicide, once by self-immolation, and has a history of schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
How did these two men come to supposedly end the pastor’s life? Because Strong wouldn’t give up the pin to his debit card at an ATM, resulting “one of the most brutal” crimes of the year, according to Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Tim Carroll, who says Henry and Strong knew each other for years. But what’s this about the victim begin gay?
“The possibility existed that Rev. Strong was gay,” says Lt. Kirk Eidson, the Chattanooga Police’s major crimes chief. “We’re exploring that. We are currently investigating as to any type of motivating factor of that nature. … Even if that would be the case, they planned a robbery, and they still killed him.”
Is that just a poorly phrased quote? That Strong died because he is gay? In a gay bashing? Or is Lt. Kirk Eidson saying there was a sexual element to the crime?
The blog Rod 2.0 says “the Chattanooga Police Department is posthumously outing Rev. Strong.” (Let’s be clear: Stating somebody’s sexuality is not defamatory. Moreover, you cannot legally defame somebody after he is dead. But yes, it is an outing if Strong wasn’t open.) That could open up the “gay panic” defense, infamous among defense attorneys who try excusing their clients’ behavior by saying they were only responding to some homo’s advances.
And while putting it in the public record that Strong might be gay could set up that possibility, we could also be looking at a bias-related crime. Which means federal hate crime charges could be attached to any prosecution of Henry and Barnes. And if it is known that Strong was gay and police didn’t look at that angle, we’d be shouting about how they dropped the ball.
So let’s see how this plays out. In the meantime, last night “hundreds” attended a funeral for Strong.
Can’t say Pastor Strong was gay! I knew him personally! If he was, it was his own business! However, if he was, it was not a justification for murder! I dont see how you could even write the stuff you have written about him! I mean, did you know him? Had you ever spoken with him? Or are you just trying to get publicity? What really gets me is that you are implicating him as if he killed himself! Even if he made a suggestion to either of them, why couldn’t they just leave? Or, why couldn’t they take the key if the door had a deadbolt? I believe that they could have left if they desired too! There was no jutification for murder!
David Strong was a wonderful person! I only wish you could have met him! He was a human being! No matter what his sexual preference was! He did not deserve to die that way!! I thing you are a bitter person with a hidden agenda of your own!!!
-Sorry to hear about the death of your colleague. This clearly has upset you, as it would any one who lost an associate, but your contradictory, confusing comments, make it seem unlikely you carefully read the entire article you criticise. Grief can often overwhelm one’s ability to process information.
Please take some deep breaths, re-read it, consult the links (they’re a sepia tone) and try posting again with a clearer head and fewer exclamation points.
I think you may be confusing the reporting of the story with the sources cited and the author’s own commentary. This article raises speculations about the motives for the murder, but doesn’t malign Pastor Strong’s character.
May your own faith and community be an asset to you as you grieve.
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