Gay Pride | News | San Diego

Performer Fatally Shot in San Diego Gay Boat Cruise Tragedy


A gay party cruise on the Hornblower yacht 'Inspiration' being run by promoter Bill Hardt to coincide with the city's Gay Pride festival on Saturday night turned tragic, as one of the go-go boys hired to dance on the cruise somehow fell overboard, and after a series of events was ultimately shot and killed by police attempting to rescue him. The cruise, which featured DJs Manny Lehman and Chris Cox, ran from 10pm to 2am in San Diego's harbor. When the man, identified as Steven Hirschfield, from West Hollywood, first went overboard, the ship immediately called police who responded while crew members from the ship attempted a rescue. Crew members reported that Hirschfield resisted their attempts to rescue him.

SdboatAccording to the San Diego Union Tribune, "Hornblower crew members threw flotation devices to Hirschfield and stayed near him until Harbor Police arrived, Unger said. A police boat found Hirschfield in the water about 500 feet south of the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station on Harbor Drive across from Lindbergh Field. The water is about 40 feet deep in that part of the bay, authorities said. When Hirschfield boarded the Harbor Police boat, he scuffled with the two officers on board, Harbor Police said. Hirschfield knocked one officer to the deck, took the officer's Taser gun and began beating him in the face with it, Harbor Police said. Hirschfield then tried to get the injured officer's firearm. As he struggled to get control of the gun, the second officer shot Hirschfield once, Harbor Police said."

Hirschfield was pronounced dead at the dock.

Emails from Towleroad readers report that it took more than two hours for all to fully disembark from the boat as officers interrogated each and every passenger about the incident.

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  1. TOLDYASO - Why don't you get an effing CLUE!

    Posted by: Jake | Jul 23, 2008 9:44:30 AM

  2. Christ boys...! I'm ashamed of most of you... are you the reasons for which I and others marched in Pride parades 30 years ago, suffering being spat upon by heckling homophopic haters standing so self rightous and holier than thou along the parade route's sidewalks...? I think not... "YOU" are judging every much as wrongly as they... and equally as sad.

    I happened to be retreiving my tickets for the boat at the dock side table when Steve walked up and had a brief conversation with one of the women behind the table. She had remembered him from some previous engagement... they exchanged small talk and smiles... I "know" what someone wired on Tina looks and acts like and he wasn't in the least "wired" at that time... Later I again saw him dancing on the box dancing not 20 minutes before he went overboard. I was down one level on the rear deak when it happened, just in time to witness all the rescue boats swarming... what I'd noticed seeing him on the box earlier was that he was staring out into the distance above the dancer's heads. I thought it an odd thing for a dancer to do, ignore excited "customers" eager to turn over cash to the man on the box... I don't know what happened... but least you find your own selves in this situation I advise you all to cut this man some slack.... we all have walked too close to the edge (perhaps too often)and if we haven't fallen over it may just be luck and not from somehow being more deserving that Steve.

    Sleep well my man... see you on another dance floor... another life.

    Posted by: SDWolf | Jul 23, 2008 11:13:50 PM

  3. All I have to say is that if you weren't on the boat, which I was but let it rest. I take things personally, and a life was taken, Period! The only accurate responces are the ones that were there and they are not even 100 % accurate.

    Posted by: pete | Jul 26, 2008 12:08:35 AM

  4. There is something you are all forgetting. He clearly wasn't suicidal, he had been treading water trying to get rescued for at least 20 minutes.
    Not only does that indicate that he wasn't suicidal, but he would have been exhausted, so how is it then that he would have fought someone? He would have been way too tired!
    Furthermore, not a single mark on his body was consistent with a struggle.
    So, the police did clearly lie about the struggle. He was not suicidal. And there is no indication that he was on any illicit substances, nor that he had a history of violence or drug usage.
    It is both a tragedy AND a cover-up. You self-loathing people who say otherwise are the reason that we have so much work to do.

    Posted by: Bryce | Jul 26, 2008 12:55:32 PM

  5. Oh, and after the police shot him there was a long period of time between the shot and the 911 call. This indicates that a story was being thought up and a cover-up was being coordinated.

    Posted by: Bryce | Jul 26, 2008 12:57:25 PM

  6. meth & suicide... k, what about just being freaked the f* out? that boat is not small, nor is the harbor, and it was at night. how coud he be assured that anyone saw what happened on a noise-ridden boat? someone in that situation could be prone to snapping and becoming delusional b/c of fear. there's a natural mental angle to his scenario that no one seems to have spoken of.

    i'd still like to see toxicology reports, but there's another level here no one is considering.

    Posted by: Matt | Aug 1, 2008 6:10:15 PM

  7. I have a tired old story of my own, and it has little to do with Steve, but more to do with a situation I have always despised.
    Why are promoters booking STRAIGHT guys to dance at GAY parties, and at PRIDE no less??? Surely we have enough of our own eye candy, and young, up and coming kids that could use the break AND the money, then to be paying a 37 year old straight man to do the job? Once again, nothing against Steven, but I definitely have an issue with what seems like a discrepancy in what we pay for and what we get. I want GAY dancers at GAY events. Period. I want them to be comfortable with their job and I want to know that we are supporting our own community. Some times I wonder whats happening to SD Pride, the events, and our whole scene in general. --Bette Diddler

    Wow, guys! I've never commented here before, and I'm not going to speculate about Steve's unfortunate demise.

    But I can't let Bette Diddler's ( floating piece of crap drift by without giving you the benefit of my insight.

    Bette, it's people of your ilk that cause straight people to say the gay community wants "special rights" instead of equal rights. What you are advocating is job discrimination, plain and simple. Steve was providing a service for pay, plain and simple. You don't think he should have been given the job because of his sexual orientation. Actually, you don't think at all...

    Consider the reverse. If you were a gay actor, should you only be allowed to work in gay-themed films and plays. What if you were a gay musician?

    What if all straight beauty shop customers decided that only straight hair burners be allowed to do their hair? Or straight homeowners thought only straight interior designers should decorate their homes? Am I getting through, you stupid twit? Equal rights means that gay bars are going to have to hire straight bartenders. You can't pick up one end of the stick without picking up the other.

    You can't expect equal rights for the gay community if you can't accept equal rights for the straight community.

    Posted by: MARLIN | Aug 2, 2008 2:32:03 AM

  8. The police are trained to 'Shoot & Kill'. They should be trained to shoot and maim or disarm in the leg or arm, that way the victim can survive and live to tell...just a thought. I don't believe in violence and certainly don't believe in the Police for all their brutality and excessive force. Yes, it is really a Sad, Sad, Sad World We Live in...

    Posted by: Ashley Lenartson | May 2, 2009 1:23:37 AM

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