Police have arrested the teenage suspect who authorities say shot and killed journalist and LGBTQ+ activist Josh Kruger in his Philadelphia home earlier this month.
Robert Davis, 19, surrendered without incident and was arrested at his mother’s home in south Philadelphia on Wednesday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Police said Davis shot Kruger seven times in the chest and abdomen at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 2. Kruger staggered outside, where he collapsed, and died a short time later at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Both police and Davis’s family say Kruger and Davis had a prior relationship that began when Davis was 15.
Davis’s mother, Damica Davis, earlier this month told the Inquirer that her son grew up without a father, suffered from mental health and anger management issues, and had been in and out of several drug rehabilitation programs.
She said his drug use and erratic behavior escalated when he turned 15. He regularly stayed out late at night, and the family found drug paraphernalia, including needles, in his possession.
When Davis’ mother confronted him about his behavior, she said Davis claimed he was involved with an “older white woman” he had recently met online and who “worked for the government.”
Kruger was a Philadelphia employee from 2015 to 2020, including a spokesperson for the office of homeless services and at the health department.
Though he was unable to hold down a job, Davis came home with expensive gifts and clothing he wasn’t able to afford. Damica told the Inquirer the family was concerned and followed Davis to the same block where Josh Kruger lived, but were unable to determine which house he had entered.
Damica also said she saw the name Josh frequently appear on her son’s phone.
Davis said her son only recently confessed that he was involved in a drug-fueled sexual relationship with Kruger, and the journalist-activist was threatening to post sexually explicit videos of the youth online if Davis didn’t comply with certain requests he found objectionable.
“He was scared,” Davis told the Inquirer earlier this month after the murder. “He said, ‘He wanted me to do some stuff I didn’t want to do and if I didn’t do it, he said he was going to blackmail me’.”
As Damica was learning of her son’s alleged involvement with Kruger, anonymous sources confirmed to the Inquirer that investigators had independently identified images and messages described as “disturbing” on Kruger’s phone, and the matter was forwarded to the police department’s special victims unit for further investigation.
Police also have said that methamphetamine was found in Josh Kruger’s home on the day he was killed.
Kruger has been remembered for his personal struggles in surviving homelessness, addiction, and sex work.
“Josh was a complex, beautiful person who believed fiercely in justice and wrote with fire and compassion that few others can,” Mathew Rodriguez, writer and former editor at The Body said in a statement to The Advocate earlier this month. “He was also my friend for over a decade and the world is worse for not having his keen insight and big heart.”
For her part, Damica is not excusing the actions of her son, saying that nothing justifies the killing of Kruger.
“It’s tragic what happened,” she said. “But I feel like my son is a victim in this as well.”