Fans mourn fatal shooting of openly gay rapper Kevin Fret in Puerto Rico

Fret is now one of 24 people who have been killed in Puerto Rico since 2019 began, marking an average of more than two murders a day.

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By Gwen Aviles

Fans are mourning the fatal shooting of Kevin Fret, one of Puerto Rico's only openly urban music artists.

The rapper, who was 24, was shot several times as he was riding his motorcycle early Thursday morning in Santurce, Puerto Rico, a neighborhood in the San Juan metro area.

Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding his death, according to reports, though they gave out information about a possible suspect.

Fret broke into Latin trap music with his debut single “Soy Así,” which translates to “I’m this way,” a song that celebrates being unapologetic about one's life. This was a sentiment Fret subscribed to and he encouraged others to do the same as an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community.

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“I’m going to act like I don’t give a damn about what anybody has to say, with my blonde hair, my black nails, showing my stomach, glittery from head to toe,” Fret said in an interview with Paper magazine last year. “[Now I see] young gay guys or young lesbians looking at me now like a role model, like wow, if he did it, and he don’t care what anybody else has to say, I can do it.”

Eduardo Rodriguez, Fret’s manager, said in a press statement that Fret was an artistic soul and a "big-hearted dreamer."

“There are no words that describe the feeling we have and the pain that causes us to know that a person with so many dreams has to go," said Rodriguez. "We must all unite in these difficult times, and ask for much peace for our beloved Puerto Rico."

As Fret’s family and fans process his death, Puerto Rico’s growing murder rate is becoming an urgent and unavoidable matter.

He is now one of the 24 people who’ve been killed in Puerto Rico since 2019 began, marking an average of more than two murders a day on the island.

Violence on the island has increased substantially since Hurricane Maria. Other recent high-profile murders on the island include two brothers who were shot on camera earlier this week, resulting in one being injured and the other dying.

Special Agent in Charge Douglas Leff, the top FBI official in Puerto Rico, said the island is undergoing a “crisis of violence” in an interview with local radio station NotiUno 630 on Wednesday. He had asked the agency for more personnel and resources from the U.S. mainland and expects to hear a response within the next few days.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, who is a non-voting member of the U.S. Congress, called for more resources to ensure Puerto Rico’s safety in a letter to the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.

González stated that surging crime is related to “high levels of absenteeism within the island’s police force” and drug trafficking on the island.

“In light of these developments, it is critical that the federal government take all necessary actions to ensure the safety and security of the 3.2. million Americans in Puerto Rico,” González wrote.

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