Edward Crawford, a Ferguson activist, was found dead Thursday night.
The 27-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. Crawford’s father, Edward Sr., confirmed his son’s death to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
According to a police summary, Crawford was in the back seat of a car, with two women also in the car with him. As the car was driving through the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood the gun went off. The women with Crawford had recounted how he had said he was distraught over “personal matters.” They then heard him looking for something in the backseat, where he then proceeded to shoot himself in the head.
However, Edward Sr. believes that the shooting was not intentional but accidental.
“I don’t believe it was a suicide,” Edward Sr. said, also adding that he had seen his son two days prior to the shooting and he was in good spirits, having recently found a new apartment and training for a new job.
Crawford became an iconic image for the Ferguson riots following the death of Michael Brown in 2014. The picture of him grabbing an active tear gas canister fired from police and throwing the explosive back at them resulted in instant fame for the activist.
A year later, in an interview with the Post-Dispatch, Crawford said that the act was not one of rebellion but instinct, as he threw the canister back to protect children caught in the riots.
After learning of his death Friday morning, Missouri Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, took to Twitter to honor Crawford.
“He is #Ferguson’s hero,” Chappelle-Nadal wrote. “For those of us tear-gassed, he was our local champion.”
“For him to throw it back, it was a rebellion…to say this is not right,” she added. “We are gonna stand here and not be invisible.”
The case is being handled by district detectives, not homicide investigators.