Marco McMillian, an openly gay black candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., was found dead Wednesday and police have detained a man in connection with the murder.
McMillian’s body was found near a Mississippi River levee Wednesday after he was reported missing the day before. Authorities ruled his death a homicide, according to the Associated Press.
A person of interest was detained in connection with McMillian’s death and was later charged in his murder, WREG reported.
The search for McMillian began Tuesday morning, when a driver crashed McMillian’s SUV into another vehicle on U.S. Highway 49, the AP reported. The candidate was not inside the SUV.
The person of interest sustained injuries in the accident and was taken to a Memphis hospital, WREG reported.
McMillian was seen as a rising star in Mississippi Democratic politics, and some political observers believed he was a viable candidate for office. His campaign slogan was “Moving Clarksdale Forward.” The Magnolia State is both the poorest and most conservative state in the nation.
“Words cannot describe our grief at the loss of our dear friend, Marco McMillian,” read a post on the Marco McMillian for Mayor Facebook page. “The shocking news of Marco’s death is beyond difficult for us to process. We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life. Tragically, that life has been cut short. At this time of loss, we ask that you keep the family and loved ones of Marco in your prayers.”
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a political action committee that identifies and bankrolls LGBT candidates, tweeted about McMillian’s murder.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi,” the fund tweeted.
Some Clarksdale residents questioned why McMillian would be murdered.
“There's a lot of people upset about it,” said resident Dennis Thomas. “Why would somebody want to do something like that to somebody of that caliber? He was a highly respected person in town."
McMillian graduated from Clarksdale High School and Jackson State University and obtained his master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, according to the AP.