The death of a man found hanged from a tree in an Atlanta park early Thursday has been referred to the FBI, Atlanta’s mayor said. Security officers discovered the as-yet-unidentified black man thought to be between 25 and 35 years old around 5 a.m. near Piedmont Park’s Charles Allen Dr. entrance, according to the Atlanta Police Department. An emergency crew pronounced the man dead at the scene.
Police said the man was hanging by a rope from the tree, and investigators called the scene “consistent with a suicide.” Coroners plan to rule the death a suicide, representatives for Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday night. “I am deeply saddened by the loss of a young man’s life last night in Piedmont Park. This disturbing event demands our full attention,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement. “The Atlanta Police Department is conducting a robust investigation into his death and I have asked to receive regular briefings on the status of the investigation. We have also referred the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Reed noted investigators have found no evidence of foul play but said he wants “to state clearly and unequivocally that we will not prejudge the circumstances surrounding this young man’s death.”
Officials with the county medical examiner’s office told the Daily News the man’s name and other identifying information will not be released until his loved ones can be reached for notification. His cause of death is asphyxiation by hanging, and investigators uncovered nothing suggesting there was a struggle at the scene.
The man’s death happened the day after two police shootings of African-American men on consecutive days in Louisiana and Minnesota. Social media users drew immediate comparisons between the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the man’s hanging death, with some going as far as saying he had been lynched by the Ku Klux Klan.
“Just read that a black man was hung in Atlanta by kkk,” one user wrote. “And they’re saying it’s a suicide #PiedmontPark.”