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Gay man shot to death in Baltimore

Second victim in coma; police have no suspects



Gay News, Washington Blade, Alex Ulrich

Alex Ulrich (Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Police Department)

Baltimore police continue to investigate a shooting early Friday morning that left a gay aspiring photographer dead and a popular Mount Vernon community activist in critical condition.

Officials said that Joseph Alexander “Alex” Ulrich, Jr., 40, and Lawrence R. Peterson, 56, were standing on the front steps of a building near the Belvedere Hotel on East Chase Street just before 4 a.m. on Aug. 10 when shots rang out. Both victims were taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital where Ulrich died several hours later.

Peterson, who purchased Empire House, the historic 1874 brownstone that had once been Gov. William Pinkney Whyte’s private residence, in 1996 and converted it into a bed and breakfast, remains in a coma.

Police took the unusual step of releasing the victims’ photographs in hopes of generating additional leads — investigators have yet to identify any potential suspects, but Det. Jeremy Silbert of the Baltimore Police Department described one of the assailants to the Blade as a black male of average height with a medium build who was wearing dark clothes and a black baseball cap. He described the second person as a short, heavy-set black female who was wearing dark clothing and a skull cap.

Anthony Giuglielmi of the Baltimore Police Department added on Tuesday that it appears the victims’ sexual orientation did not play a role in the shooting.

“There’s no evidence thus far that it has anything to do with a hate crime,” he told the Blade.

Ulrich, who grew up in Smithsburg near Hagerstown in Washington County, attended Salisbury State University on the Eastern Shore where he was active in the school’s theater community. He had been an actor and worked with children with special needs in Gettysburg, Pa., before moving to Baltimore in the spring to start his photography career. He lived on the 900 block of North Calvert Street in Mount Vernon, the heart of the city’s gay community, with best friend Glenn Bennett.

“Knowing him was just like being inside of joy,” Bennett, who met Ulrich 20 years ago when he began studying at Salisbury State, told the Blade. “He was just the most friendly person, so very sweet and kind. He knew how to have a good time and he enjoyed a good laugh. We honestly have spent 20 years laughing hysterically together, which has been quite wonderful.”

Bennett said that a Pennsylvania art gallery had exhibited four of Ulrich’s photographs just before he died.

“He, for a very long time, had been wanting to just be a full-fledged photographer and had started working toward that,” he said. “He had been dreaming for years and years and years of moving to Baltimore and was finally able to do it and actually started to have all those things happen for him. It makes it that much more bittersweet for all of us.”

Ian Finkenbinder, who met Ulrich through Bennett, echoed these sentiments.

“Alex was an amazing funny, spirited individual who enriched and brightened the lives of everyone around him,” he said. “We are all devastated and left poorer for his absence in our lives.”

A vigil for Ulrich and Peterson is scheduled to take place tonight in West Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore at 7 p.m. A second memorial will take place in Smithsburg on Wednesday night.

Ulrich’s wake is scheduled to take place at the Rest Haven Cemetery in Hagerstown on Thursday from 6 – 9 p.m. His funeral is scheduled to take place at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Hagerstown on Friday at 11 a.m.

Police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call homicide detectives at (410) 396-2100. All callers will remain anonymous. Metro Crime Stoppers is also offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment in this case. Call 1 866-7LOCKUP with any information.

Steve Charing contributed to this report.


District of Columbia

Rooftop Pool Party postponed

Capital Pride Alliance moves official event to June 22



A scene from last year's Capital Pride Rooftop Pool Party. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Rooftop Pool Party, originally scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. tonight, has been postponed until Thursday, June 22, according to a statement released by the Capital Pride Alliance on Instagram. This action comes amid an international climate event created by the Canadian wildfire that has resulted locally in poor air quality and a haze around the region.

The Capital Pride Alliance Instagram account posted, “As with all concerns regarding health and safety issues, the Capital Pride Alliance will closely monitor the air quality situation resulting from Canadian wildfire smoke and take necessary precautions in consultation with our partners in the DC government.”

“What does this mean for the pool party?” a question one private Instagram account user posed in the comment section.

“Important Update:” A representative of the Capital Pride Alliance responded through the group’s official Instagram account. “Tonight’s Capital Pride RoofTop Pool Party at VIDA The Yards is being postponed until Thursday, June 22 at 8:00 pm, due to the current air-quality situation resulting from the Canadian wildfires smoke. Please note that this postponement only applies to today’s event.”

The Capital Pride Alliance has yet to cancel or postpone any further events.

The White House earlier today rescheduled a large outdoor Pride reception planned for this evening to Saturday.

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District of Columbia

White House postpones Pride event due to wildfire smoke

Thousands expected for celebration bumped to Saturday



The White House on June 8, 2023. A White House Pride reception was postponed due to the Canadian wildfire smoke. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House announced Thursday that a Pride event scheduled for this evening has been postponed to Saturday due to the lingering Canadian wildfire smoke.

The smoke has enveloped D.C. in a dangerous haze that triggered a “purple alert” on Thursday, considered worse than a “red alert.”

The event, expected to draw thousands of invited LGBTQ advocates and supporters to D.C., has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday on the South Lawn of the White House, the same day as D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade, which kicks off at 3 p.m., and Pride on the Pier celebration, which starts at 2 p.m.

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Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth election canceled after just 3 candidates file for 3 races

Mayor Stan Mills unopposed in bid for second term



Rehoboth Beach Mayor Stan Mills gets a second term after no one filed to run against him. (Photo courtesy of Mills)

Rehoboth Beach voters won’t be heading to the polls this August because municipal elections were canceled after just three candidates filed to run for three open seats.

Stan Mills will be Rehoboth’s mayor for a second term, while Patrick Gossett, who’s gay, will remain on the Board of Commissioners and Donald Preston will join the board, replacing Jay Lagree.

Lagree filed to run in the Aug. 12 election but withdrew from the running shortly thereafter. He did not respond to a voicemail asking why he withdrew, but released a statement citing his age and hearing loss as reasons for bowing out of the race.

“After much consideration, I am withdrawing my candidacy for city commission,” he said in a statement released on June 6. “I have been honored to serve on the commission and to serve the citizens of Rehoboth Beach, and I had intended to continue my service. However, I am getting older every day. My hearing has become a problem; although, with correction, I can do pretty well most of the time.”

Mills was the target of criticism when he ran for mayor three years ago, unseating incumbent Paul Kuhns. Critics were concerned about his stance on development, which surfaced when Mills voted against Clear Space Theatre’s plans to build a new complex on Rehoboth Avenue, killing the already approved deal that was widely supported by the local business community.

More than a decade ago, as city commissioner, Mills used an ordinance to target bars hosting late-night eating and drinking on outside patios. Six of the eight bars targeted were owned and operated by gay businesspeople, former Aqua Grill owner Bill Shields told the Delaware State Public Integrity Commission. Police arrested and fingerprinted Shields before releasing him later as it became clear that Aqua Grill was grandfathered in and did not have to follow the ordinance. In a sharply worded decision, Delaware’s Public Integrity Commission said Mills used his public office for personal gain when targeting the bars, since he owned a bed and breakfast next door, and should have recused himself from the decision.

Asked about it in 2020, Mills told the Blade that it was “old news.”

“I’m sorry that happened, I’m sorry the way that was perceived,” he said. “It’s lessons learned and not forgotten, but we have to move on.”

On Monday, Mills raised the Pride flag outside of city hall and presented CAMP Rehoboth, the local LGBTQ community center, with a proclamation honoring LGBTQ+ Pride month along with two commissioners.

CAMP Rehoboth declined to comment on the election, citing its 501(c)(3) status, which does not allow it to endorse candidates.

When Mills ran for election in 2020, real estate agent Joe Maggio called attention to the issue, writing in an editorial for the Blade that Mills “uses his official role to enhance his personal interests and impose his personal prejudices.”

Mills did not respond to an email and voicemail seeking comment.

Gossett, who did not immediately respond to a voicemail, has served on the Board of Commissioners for 10 years. He was one of four commissioners that voted to overturn Clear Space Theatre Company’s approval to build two buildings in downtown Rehoboth in 2021. Clear Space appealed to Delaware’s Superior Court but later dropped the lawsuit, citing the cost of litigation and other factors. It has since abandoned plans to build the expansion in downtown Rehoboth, but executive director Wesley Paulson told the Delaware Business Times they will look for a new location “outside of the city.”

Preston is a political newcomer but comes endorsed by Lagree.

“He’s young, smart, has the same goals and objectives for Rehoboth Beach as I have,” he told WGMD.

Preston did immediately respond to a voicemail. The three politicians will be certified on June 16.

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