Yesterday came word that the Pittsburgh Police have charged 30-year-old Hubert Wingate with the murder of Andre Gray. Andre was 34 years old and a resident of Lawrenceville when he went missing from his apartment in October 2014. His body was discovered in the Ohio River in late March and his funeral was this past weekend. An openly bisexual man of color, Andre was involved with the founding of Project SILK and involved in the local ball community.
Hubert Wingate also known as “Sincere” and “Sincerely Yourz” among other alternative names shot Andre to death in his apartment, called in some buddies to help dispose of his body after stealing his electronics. He has enough foresight to set Andre’s car on fire to hide the evidence, but then plugged in the stolen Playstation at his mother’s apartment – the police tracked him down using the IP address.
I can’t get my head around that level of stupid combined with callous disregard for the life of an alleged friend. When I read the account of what allegedly happened after Andre was killed, I was even more horrified. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
E,” whose full name is not listed, told detectives that Mr. Wingate and the other witness arrived at E’s home in Arnold with Mr. Gray’s body “wrapped up in a sheet and bound with tape.”
They carried his body to the river, E told police, and then Mr. Wingate “fired two or three gunshots into the body of Mr. Gray in an attempt to put holes in it so he would sink,” according to the affidavit. When that didn’t work, E said, the second witness got into the water, stabbed Mr. Gray multiple times, and attempted to drag Mr. Gray into the river.
The second witness told police Mr. Wingate sent texts prior to the killing indicating that he “was going to kill someone” then another text say “it was done and that he had killed him,” according to the affidavit.
Mr. Wingate came to the witness’s Northview Heights home in Mr. Gray’s car, drove them to Mr. Gray’s apartment and then sneaked inside Mr. Gray’s apartment via a fire escape.
Inside, the witness said, Mr. Gray’s body was already lying on a sheet. The witness killed Mr. Gray’s dog by stabbing it, mixing the dog’s blood with Mr. Gray’s after Mr. Wingate said, “that this would ruin any attempts by the police to get DNA from the blood,” according to the complaint.
The witness told police they put Mr. Gray in a garbage can, then placed him in the back of his car and covered him with clothing and other electronics and drove to Arnold.
They tried to puncture his dead body with bullets and then with a knife so it would sink? They killed Andre’s dog, Boss, so they could mix his blood into Andre’s to ruin the DNA? They put Andre’s body in a garbage can? This is like a hideous episode of CSI: Jagoff Edition. I am so filled with rage over these details that I cannot put together a thoughtful blog post. I just weep for all of us. I wish I had the skills to be a voice of comfort and wisdom rather than just howl with outrage and indignation.
In the past 18 months, six members of our local LGBTQ community have died – three by violent murders and three by suicide. All of them were under 35 years of age. Three were white and three were black. I’m sure that the actual number is higher. I insert that information to explain why I continually remind you that Andre was both a man of color and bisexual. Both facts matter.
I can just assure you that Andre’s family has support and that Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community is putting together a vigil later this month to honor his life. I will, of course, post details.
You can continue to support Andre’s family and friends with a donation to the Andre Gray Memorial Fund. Any amount will help with day-to-day expenses and future community level organizing with other young men here in Pittsburgh.