Westporter Feared Dead In Oakland Fire

Riley Fritz — a 2005 graduate of Staples High School — is believed to be one of the 36 people killed this weekend in the Oakland warehouse fire.

Riley’s father, Bruce Fritz, is en route to California, at the coroner’s request.

Bruce Fritz told the Connecticut Post that the 29-year-old played bass guitar locally, graduated from the School for the Visual Arts in Manhattan in 2010. and recently moved to Oakland.

After college, Riley identified as a woman. She used the name Feral Pines.

The Post said that although she was at the electronic music show and party at the Oakland artists’ collective — a former warehouse — she did not live there.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Feral Pines

Feral Pines

21 responses to “Westporter Feared Dead In Oakland Fire

  1. So heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, and all of those families who lost a loved one in this tragedy.

  2. This is very sad news, and my condolences to the family for such a incomprehensible loss. I was prepared to hear that a Westport kid might be among the victims, since we have so many in the arts. I was even worried about my own son of the same age who lives in the Bay Area.

    And, especially frightening that the Oakland authorities ignored this danger, despite numerous complaints about the space and its socieopathic master tenant. In this day and age you don’t expect to be put in such danger just for going to a live music event.

  3. So sorry to hear this. We knew Riley through Scouts. Condolences to the entire Fritz family. They are wonderful people.

  4. Her name is Feral Pines and she is a transgender woman who said repeatedly that she wanted never to be referred to the name J. or with he/him pronouns. We had multiple conversations about how if she ever went missing or died we would need to keep watch for the use of that name or incorrect pronouns. Please correct your article to use only Feral/Riley and she/her pronouns. In general, it is important to always use correct pronouns and chosen names for transgender individuals even/especially in death.

    • Thanks, Kelly. As a gay man, I am very sensitive to this issue. I believe I handled this story properly, according to the guidelines of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (of which I am a charter member). Justin Fritz graduated from Staples in 2005. I never used the pronoun “he.” After explaining the transition process — which occurred after college — I use the pronoun “she,” and include her name in the photo caption. I also referred to Riley, which is a gender-neutral name. I tried to be as sensitive as possible, while letting readers know the back story of the tragedy. This is a local blog. Had I referred solely to Feral Pines, many classmates and other Westporters would have had no idea of the person who died in this horrible fire.

  5. While Dan was basically repeating the Connecticut Post article, I have to agree with Kelly Thomas and Morgan F.

    • Nancy, what if I posted a story about a classmate of yours from Staples who died, and you had no idea that person had transitioned (and changed his or her name). You would thus have no idea who that person you once knew was, and you couldn’t tell by the photo. So you would not have any clue that you knew that person who had died. Does that change your opinion of how I handled this?

      • Dan, I have no quarrel with your post and reply.
        Please excuse me for understanding her friend.
        I happen to have experience in the matter, so I’m sure this young woman was known by her name for a long time. News spreads, you know.

  6. Vanessa Bradford

    Some have lost a son, daughter, sister, brother, friend. We need not to focus on being so particularly correct in the moment. A human being died in a horrible fire, no matter the gender.

  7. Jonathan Kaner

    This is not a matter of political correctness, but a tragic event. Dan did handle the story properly, using both gender pronouns when necessary. However, it is not nearly as important to complain about political correctness as it is to mourn this loss. My thoughts and prayers are with the Fritz family and with all the others involved in this tragedy.

  8. “Political correctness” is not the issue. Human decency is the issue.

    • Give it a rest Nancy. I believe something more compassionate like a condolence is appropriate right now of which you have offered none.

      • I have offered my condolence by respecting the name of Feral Pines.

        • You are one cold lady.

          • My point is simply that a trans person desperately wants to be known by his or her or “they” name.
            I’m sorry if my comments have been misunderstood.

        • Are you Nancy Hunter or Nancy Hunter Wilson? Just want to respect your name in the future. Dan was spot on with the coverage of this terrible tragedy and some of these remarks have diminished the impact of this tragedy and the decency required to deal with horrific loss for so many of the families associated with the victims.

          • No, this tragedy has brought forward the life of a transgender person.
            My remarks seem to be misunderstood.

  9. Sending Bruce, Nancye and the Fritz family my sincere sympathy. A truly tragic loss and I’m very sorry.

  10. Vanessa Bradford

    I agree with you. I Did not say it was political. Just not to be so”correct” in time of loss. Thank you Dan for your journalistic and empathetic perspective.

  11. Hi,

    This is not actually in line with current guidelines, which recommend that you refer to transgender people by their chosen names in the past, present and future. It is also, in general, poor journalism to be concentrating on her transition at all.


    As a close friend of hers I ask you remove her previous name all together out of respect for her and and her community.

    • I am following National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association guidelines, which note that in a news story, it may be necessary to identify a trans person’s original name, but in all subsequent references, to use the name the person uses.

      Because too many people are focusing on this issue here, rather than the tragedy of a young person losing her life in a fire, I am closing comments on this thread. If someone has a personal remembrance of her that he or she would like me to post, please email me: dwoog@optonline.net