PALMDALE (CBSLA) — Community members gathered Friday night outside of Palmdale City Hall for a vigil held in honor of a young Black man who died earlier this week.
The man, identified as 24-year-old Robert Fuller, was found early Wednesday morning hanging from a tree in a downtown Palmdale park, across the street from City Hall.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the death was still under investigation, but they believed the man might have died by suicide. City officials said there were no working security cameras in the area.
"We are all grieving the loss of this young man and our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time," Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said in a Friday evening statement. "We also understand the community's call for a full investigation into this death, and we are asking the same."
But family members and those in the community believe Fuller's death should be investigated as a homicide.
"He was not suicidal," Pernisha Theus, Fuller's cousin, said. "He had no mental illnesses and we don't want that to be implied."
According to the family, Fuller comes from a tight-knit family and had just returned from a trip to Arizona to visit his siblings.
"He was very loving, funny, happy, humble," Debra Lemle, another cousin, said. "He wasn't a troublesome kid. I don't think he ever got in trouble. He was so laid back and quiet."
A community meeting held Friday afternoon was interrupted when community members looking for answers raised their voices to make sure their concerns about Fuller's death were heard.
Hofbauer said he was determined to find out what happened and that the city would fully cooperate with the sheriff's department, the coroner's office and other agencies investigating the death and would work with local community leaders to "increase the dialogue on how we can best work together and build a safer and more inclusive community."
A full autopsy is expected to be completed and released soon.
"We're not letting this get swept under the rug," Theus said. "We're gonna get our own report for the autopsy and investigator, whatever we have to do to find out the truth, that's what we're going to do."
The family has set up a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $100,000.
Anyone with information about the death was asked to call the sheriff's homicide bureau at (323) 890-5500.
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