The FBI is involved in how these hanging deaths occurred…Very sad news…and confounding how and why these happened.
When Malcolm Harsch, a 38-year-old Black man, was found hanging from a tree in Victorville two weeks ago, authorities said they saw no evidence of foul play.
A week later, when Robert Fuller, another Black man, was discovered hanging from a tree in Palmdale, the initial cause of death was listed as suicide.
But after protests and questions in the two deaths, the FBI announced Monday that it was examining both cases.
Local authorities say both the Fuller and Harsch cases remain under investigation.
Fuller’s family and friends described him as a peacemaker, a street-smart man with shoulder-length dreadlocks and a bright smile who loved music, anime and video games and mostly stayed to himself. Days before he died, he attended a Black Lives Matter protest.
His body was found by a passerby at 3:39 a.m. Wednesday, a time when Fuller would never have been out, said Tommie Anderson, 21, a close friend since high school.
“For my best friend to be gone, it’s hurting me,” said Anderson, who was wearing a T-shirt depicting one of Fuller’s favorite characters from the Japanese anime TV series “Dragon Ball Z.”
Fuller was too large and too muscular for the thin tree to support his weight for long, she said. And he was too tall to hang from its lowest branches.
“For people to say he did this, this wasn’t Robert,” Anderson said. “For him to tie himself to that tree, it’s not possible.”
The Victorville Fire Department discovered Harsch’s body May 31 after receiving a dispatch call around 7 a.m., officials said. When firefighters arrived at the library, they found Harsch hanging from a nearby tree.
On Monday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department offered more details about what happened, saying deputies were were called to a homeless encampment regarding Harsch.
“The caller said she and [her] boyfriend, later identified as Malcolm Harsch, had been together during the morning, but she had since returned to her tent for a short period of time. She was alerted by others in the encampment that Mr. Harsch was found hanging from a tree and cut down. People in the encampment were performing CPR, attempting to revive Mr. Harsch,” the statement said.
“Upon arrival, deputies immediately took over and continued CPR. Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene a short time later, and despite additional lifesaving efforts, pronounced Mr. Harsch deceased,” officials added.