PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Josh Kruger, a Philadelphia journalist and activist, was shot and killed inside his home in the Point Breeze neighborhood early Monday morning, police said. The shooting happened shortly before 1:30 a.m. in the 2300 block of Watkins Street.
Kruger, 39, was shot seven times, according to police. He was taken to an area hospital, where he later died.
Police have not made any arrests and no weapons were recovered.
Jaz Brown heard the gunshots and screams of her neighbor, Kruger, outside their door early Monday morning.
"Josh was calling for help and I called the police to make sure they'd come out for them," Brown said.
Kruger overcame homelessness and addiction to work for five years in city government, handling Mayor Jim Kenney's social media and serving as the communications director for the city's Office of Homeless Services.
He left city government in 2021 to return to journalism, according to his website. He wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper and other publications.
"He was more than just a journalist," said Kendall Stephens, who was a friend and neighbor of Kruger's. "He was more than just a community member. He was somebody that fought that great fight so many of us are not able to fight that fight because we're too busy sheltered in our own homes wondering if someone is going to knock down our doors and kill us the same way they killed him. The same way they tried to kill me. And we're tired of it."
Kenney said in a statement that he is "shocked and saddened" by Kruger's death.
"[Kruger] cared deeply about our city and its residents, which was evident in his public service and writing," Kenney said in a statement. "Our administration was fortunate to call him a colleague, and our prayers are with everyone who knew him."
On his website, Kruger described himself as a cat person who "hates driving cars, preferring to bicycle or ride trains."
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement that "Josh deserved to write the ending of his personal story."
"Josh Kruger lifted up the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in our communities -- particularly unhoused people living with addiction," Krasner said. "As an openly queer writer who wrote about his own journey surviving substance use disorder and homelessness, it was encouraging to see Josh join the Kenney administration as a spokesperson for the Office of Homeless Services."
The DA's LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee said Kruger never stopped fighting for Philadelphia's LGBTQ+ community.
"Many of us knew Josh Kruger as a comrade who never stopped advocating for queer Philadelphians living on the margins of society," the committee said in a statement. "His struggles mirrored so many of ours -- from community rejection to homelessness, to addiction, to living with HIV, to poverty -- and his recovery, survival, and successes showed what's possible when politicians and elected leaders reject bigotry and work affirmatively to uplift all people."
Friends and neighbors of Kruger are devastated. They said he was a force for change who lived out the words he wrote to give voice to the voiceless.
"This is a shock to the system. A shock to the community," Stephens said.
"I am so upset. I can barely think straight," Stephens added. "He was loved by so many people. He didn't deserve what happened to him. Someone in your house and someone can just barge in a kill you. And for what!?"
Kruger was there for Stephens, a trans woman, after she was
"When I was a victim of a hate crime, he was one of the first people to be neighborly and come over and provide support. Kind words. At that time I feared for my safety. I feared people would come back again," Stephens said.
The two shared a common bond - both activists for the LGBTQ+ community.
"We admired each other because I was an activist on the front lines with my blow horn but he used journalism as a form of activism," Stephens said. "He used journalism as a way to speak about the societal ills that affect our most vulnerable communities and he cared so deeply about the communities."
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