Edward Crawford Jr., the subject of the iconic teargas photo from protests in Ferguson, was found dead late Thursday evening (May 4), The St. Louis Dispatch reports.
The father of four died overnight when he was discovered in his car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police haven’t released his identity, but Crawford’s family identified his body at a morgue early Friday morning (May 5). Crawford Sr. spoke to reporters and shared his confusion about the passing of his son. After seeing Crawford Jr. just two days prior, the 52-year-old explained he was in good spirits.
“He was wonderful, great, always in a good mood. He just got a new apartment and was training for a new job,” he said. “I don’t believe it was a suicide. They’re being hush-hush.”
Crawford Jr. was known in St. Louis as the proud father and citizen but became an icon overnight in 2015 after St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer Robert Cohen snapped a photo of him tossing a smoking tear gas cylinder after police fired it his way during protests for the death of Michael Brown. The image became a symbol for the movement with it finding its way onto posters, cell phones, t-shirts and paintings.
Speaking to reporters after the photo went viral, Crawford explained he was trying to get the tear gas cylinder away from the children who were nearby. He was also unaware of exactly what it was, given there were a mix of peaceful protestors like himself and rioters in the streets.
While Cohen was awarded a Pulitzer for the image, Crawford reportedly faced charges for the act. In an interview with CNN after the incident, he said he was happy for the attention and wanted the media to remain in Ferguson. “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,” he said. “With the attention, I hope our voices are heard and I hope our pain is felt by America. So, I don’t want the cameras to leave. I hope they stay here as long as they can and just capture positive moments, positive protests.”
Crawford went on to align himself with the Black Lives Matter movement while sharing love for his family on social media.
— deray (@deray) August 11, 2015
— That's that one dude (@eyeFLOODpanties) January 9, 2017
Crawford enjoyed music from Yo Gotti as well as New Edition and loved tracking his horoscope. He was 27-years-old. Police are currently looking into whether Crawford intentionally shot himself or if it was accidental. The incident will be investigated by district detectives.