Marco McMillian, an openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi, was found dead Wednesday on a Mississippi River levee, reports the AP.
McMillian, 34, was running for mayor of Clarksdale, MS, a city known as the mythical crossroads where musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. It’s also home to Ground Zero Blues Club, a music venue co-owned by Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.
The death is being investigated as a homicide, and a “person of interest”—believed to be McMillan friend Lawrence Reed—is in custody, according to local police.
“We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life,” said his campaign manager, Jarod Keith, in a statement. “Tragically, that life has been cut short.”
On Tuesday, Reed allegedly crashed McMillian’s SUV headlong into with another vehicle—though it’s not clear of the incident is connected to today’s tragedy.
“There’s a lot of people upset about it,” said area business owner Dennis Thomas. “Why would somebody want to do something like that to somebody of that caliber? He was a highly respected person in town. He’s been in the community helping out a lot.”
McMillian was running for a seat vacated by current mayor Henry Espy Jr., whose son, state Rep. Chuck Espy, is also running—as is Bill Luckett, who co-owned Ground Zero with Freeman.
In addition to running a nonprofit consulting firm, McMillian was involved in Phi Beta Sigma, a historically black fraternity, and was recognized in 2004 as one of Ebony‘s “30 up-and-coming African Americans” under age 30.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the fistst viable openly LGBT candidates in Mississippi,” read a tweet by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
We’ll continue reporting on this case as more information comes to light.