Edward Crawford, 27, a Ferguson, Mo., protester and activist, was found in his car dead from a gunshot wound.
Reports are not clear on whether the shooting took place Thursday night or early Friday morning. Police investigators are calling it self-inflicted, but they say they have not yet determined whether they believe it to have been intentional.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
[Crawford] was in a car when the gun went off. Two women were in the car with him, police say. The women told police that Crawford had started talking about how depressed he was. They heard him fumbling around for something, and the next thing they knew he shot himself.
The police version of events has not been independently confirmed.
Crawford instantly became an icon of the Movement for Black Lives when a photo emerged of him throwing a tear gas canister back toward police officers during the 2014 protests following the extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown Jr. by Police Officer Darren Wilson.
The photo was taken by St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer Robert Cohen.
Those on the side of justice—and against the hypermilitarization of police—applauded the act of resistance. In a 2014 interview with CNN, Crawford said that his instinct was to get the weapon away from children.
Crawford’s father, Edward Crawford Sr., 52, confirmed his son’s death to the Post-Dispatch.
“I don’t believe it was a suicide,” Crawford Sr. said of his son’s death. “They’re being hush-hush.
“He was wonderful, great, always in a good mood,” he continued. “He just got a new apartment and was training for a new job.”
Crawford was the father of four children.
When asked by CNN’s Brian Stelter about the national spotlight on Ferguson, the younger Crawford had said that he hoped it continued.
“I am happy the media is in my town, because this attention that we’re getting, I just hope we turn it into something positive.” Crawford said. “With the attention, I hope our voices are heard and I hope our pain is felt by America ... I hope [the cameras] stay here as long as they can and just capture positive moments, positive protests.”
This is the third time that a young black man with some connection to the Ferguson uprising has been found dead inside of a car.
As previously reported by The Root, Darren Seals, 29, another Ferguson, Mo., protester and activist who rose to prominence in the wake of Mike Brown’s death, was found dead last September.
Seals was shot before he was placed in a car that was then set on fire.
In addition, in November 2014, during the protests that followed a grand jury’s refusal to indict Wilson in Brown’s shooting death, DeAndre Joshua, 20, was found shot once in the head inside a burning car. Bloodied glass was discovered on the ground beside his white Pontiac Grand Prix, right next to the Canfield Green Apartments, where Mike Brown was slain.
Our deepest condolences go out to Crawford’s family and friends, the Ferguson protesters, and the entire Movement for Black Lives community. May truth and justice always prevail.
The Root will update this story as more details become available.
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.