The sheriff’s office confirmed the incident on its official Twitter account on the morning of June 17.
“Deputies were called to the parking area of a school in the 6600 block of Rosebrook, where a teenage black male was found deceased. Based on security video, witnesses and other evidence, preliminary indications are the male hanged himself,” the department said in a statement.
The department also said there were no signs of foul play, and the cause of death was pending an autopsy:
A later statement issued by the police confirmed the incident occurred outside Ehrhardt Elementary yesterday around 8:10 p.m, June 16. Police attended the scene after they “were informed by a witness of a 17-year-old male found hanging from a tree in the playground area.
“Homicide investigators were able to review surveillance cameras & found no signs of foul play,” police said.
A further update said the young male had “a history of suicide attempts, with one attempt as recently as a few weeks ago.”
ABC13’s Stefania Okolie reported that “investigators say they reviewed surveillance, evidence, [and] spoke to witnesses” before judging the death an apparent suicide.
She also said the “17 year old black boy found hanging from a tree outside of Ehrhardt elementary school was a student at Klein High school most recently. There was a thorough investigation that included video review, and speaking to family.”
The death is one of a string of deaths of black and Hispanic men found hanging in the United States. Authorities said they don’t suspect foul play in the deaths, but some are not convinced.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Death of the Teenager Comes a Day After a Man was Found Hanging from a Tree in Houston, Texas
On June 16, when a man was found hanging outside a Circle Saw Shop in Shady Acres, Houston, Texas.
Houston Police reported that homicide detectives were “investigating the apparent suicide of an adult Hispanic male who was found about 9:05 a.m. in the 2500 block of Ella Blvd.”
A video of the man hanging from the tree was shared on social media. The Houston Chronicle confirmed that the video “showed what appeared to be a man hanging from a tree in a field at that location, with emergency vehicles at the scene.” Viewer discretion is advised.
On social media, people erroneously referred to hanging as the “lynching of a black man,” according to Fox 26 Houston. The station reported that police say the man was a “Hispanic man who took his own life.”
Other Hangings in the U.S. Are Being Investigated But Authorities Say They Suspect Suicide
Malcolm Harsch, a 38-year-old black man, was found hanging from a tree in Victorville, California, on May 31. His family members are raising concerns about his death. Authorities said they don’t believe foul play was involved in Harsch’s death, but the cause and manner of Harsch’s death were being investigated. According to the Daily Press, authorities received a call from a woman “who said her boyfriend hanged himself.”
On June 9, 27-year-old Dominique Alexander’s body was found hanging from a tree at Fort Tyron Park in Upper Manhattan. Alexander was found by the New York Office of the Medical Examiner to have died by suicide, according to the New York Post.
Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man, was found hanged on June 10 at a park near Palmdale City Hall in California. According to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, “LASD Homicide Detectives” are now investigating the death of Robert Fuller. Although the investigation continues, authorities said it “appears Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide.”
The men’s families did not believe them to be suicidal, The Daily Beast reported.
The “FBI, U.S. attorney’s office in the Central District of California and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division” are now involved in monitoring the investigations in California, the Houston Chronicle said.
‘There Could Be More to the Story,’ Congresswoman Says
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee told FOX 26 Houston she “believes there could be more to the story after an eerie pattern of recent suicides where black men were found hanging from trees.”
“People are on edge they are nervous this is a troubling a challenging time for us. It is shocking in our community and no death in that form should go uninvestigated so it will be my effort since it occurred in the 18th Congressional district so I will make sure it is investigated thoroughly,” she said.
According to FOX 26, HPD Commander Steve Spears said “at that time, the Medical Examiner’s office came out and did a thorough investigation and determined it was a Hispanic male most likely by suicide. If they thought there was any foul play at all, the ME’s office, which is not associated with the Houston Police Dept, would’ve contacted HPD and we would’ve come out and sent the whole homicide team out.”
In the case of Harsch, state officials and the city are working together to investigate the death.
More information will be posted as this story develops.