Rapper and LGBT activist Kevin Fret was shot to death Thursday as he rode a motorbike in Puerto Rico, CNN affiliate Noticentro.tv reported.
The 24-year-old Puerto Rican was renowned as the first openly gay artist in the Latin trap genre. Novicentro.tv reported local police as saying he was killed as he rode through the capital, San Juan.
Fret’s death is part of a wave of violence affecting the island of an estimated 3.3 million people, the broadcaster said, with 24 murders so far this year.
Fret was killed in the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan around 5.20 am, it said.
The artist regularly addressed fans through his Facebook page and was outspoken on issues affecting the LGBT community. His most recent video, Soy Así, has more than 700,000 views on YouTube.
Defined as a sub-genre of Spanish-language hip hop, Latin trap has become a hugely popular musical genre in Latin America, the US and Spain. It has come in for criticism from some quarters for its misogynistic and macho attitudes.
Fret had previously complained of abuse and harassment that he claimed were due to his sexuality.
In the aftermath of his death, the Puerto Rico Trans Youth Coalition said in a Facebook post that Fret’s murder “could be described as a hate crime.”
“With his colorful and empowered show, Fret disobeyed many of the expectations of hegemonic masculinity that dominate the trap genre,” the post continues.
“Kevin broke many barriers and served as a necessary representation, denouncing without filter the homophobia of colleagues in artistic scenes notorious for their machismo and misogyny.”
The alleged link between Fret’s death and homophobia may be symptomatic of a wider issue in Puerto Rico.
“Homophobia is deeply rooted in our country and represents a formidable factor of discrimination, marginality and exclusion,” wrote researcher Palmira N. Ríos González in the preface to a book on homophobia published by the Puerto Rican Civil Rights Commission.
“In fact, it appears that homophobia persists as a socially acceptable prejudice.”
Puerto Rico police are worried about an evolution in criminal behavior, according to a report by Noticentro.tv, with many killings occurring in public places during daylight hours, posing a greater threat to members of the public.
Novicentro.tv reports that the killings are part of a war between drug gangs.
CNN has so far been unable to reach the Puerto Rico police for comment on Fret’s death.