An Ohio-based activist, MarShawn McCarrel, killed himself on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse, authorities said.  No one witnessed the shooting and he was pronounced dead at the scene.  His death has shocked the local civil rights community, leaving his loved ones and admirers struggling to understand why he would choose to take his own life.

MarShawn McCarrel’s family said his emotionally draining work may well have taken a toll on him. The 23-yearold shot himself in front of the Columbus building Monday night, Lt. Craig Cvetan of the State Highway Patrol told the Columbus Dispatch.

His mother Leatha Wellington and twin brother MarQuan McCarrel later stated that he put his causes before himself.  They suspect the never-ending and disturbing nature of his activism and charity work left him mentally and physically exhausted in a way they didn’t realize.  “He impacted so many people, touched so many lives,” Wellington said.

Around 3pm, just hours before his body was found, he posted on his Facebook page “My demons won today. I’m sorry.”  The activist had worked with the Black Lives Matter movement, helping organize protests in Ohio.  He also founded youth mentorship program Pursuing Our Dreams, which launched “Feed the Streets”, a project to help Ohio’s homeless.

He attended the NAACP’s Image Awards on Friday, Pursuing Our Dreams wrote on its Facebook.  The 23-year-old community organizer was named one of Radio One’s Hometown Champions, an award for community activists and volunteers, earlier this year and earned a trip to the California awards show. He took his mom to the Friday night ceremony.

According to his nomination, McCarrel was homeless for three months after he graduated from high school — an experience that inspired him to help others.  “When MarShawn got back on his feet, he felt the need to give back because so many people helped him when he was down,” it read. “MarShawn stresses the importance of having conversations with the people we feed because they’ll get hungry in 2 hours but a good conversation will carry them over for a lifetime.”

An organizer with the Ohio Student Association, Molly Shack, told The Columbus Dispatch “Shawn made an incredible impact and was such a light for literally thousands of people,”  “The ripples around him go very far.”

While police are not ready to draw any conclusions about why McCarrel killed himself or why he chose to do so in front of the State House, some activists who knew him well have suggested that he had intended his death to be a final gesture of political activism.

“The Statehouse was no accident,” Molly Shack, “We’ve been working so hard, and yet the conditions for the people in our community and the people that he loved and cared about are still so hard.  I have to imagine that that burden weighed a lot on him.”

Regardless of motivation, loved ones and peers mourn the leader’s death.  One can only hope he is at peace now and that his love and work for his community will not be forgotten.

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