VICTORVILLE, Calif. (VVNG.com) — The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said foul play is not suspected in the death of a Black man who was found hanging in a tree in Victorville.
On May 31, 2020, at about 7 am, the Victorville City Fire Department was dispatched to the Victorville City Library at 15011 Circle Drive where they discovered 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch deceased nearby.
The Sheriff’s Department told VVNG that the death of Mr. Malcolm Harsch is still an active investigation.
“There were no indications at the scene that suggested foul play; however, the cause and manner of death are still pending,” Sheriff’s Spokeswoman Jodi Miller told Victor Valley News.
The family of Mr. Harsch reached out to Victor Valley News shortly after the incident and said they were still seeking answers, but initially decided to wait for more details from the Sheriff’s Department before releasing a statement.
On Saturday, June 13, the family reached out to VVNG and provided the following statement.
“Our brother Malcolm Harsch died on May 31st. His cause of death has not been released to the family yet but we are concerned that his death will be labeled as a suicide, as this is what was communicated to us upon confirmation of his death on the morning of June 1st,” stated the family.
“Amidst the current racial tension and following the protesting the night prior to his body being discovered we were truly troubled to learn of his passing particularly of how his body was discovered. He is an African-American man whose body was found hanging from a tree! The deputy who called to confirm his death asked questions about drug or alcohol use, he made a statement about how the coronavirus has “hit people really hard” and said that a USB cord was used to hang himself,” according to the statement.
“As most of us are in Ohio, we weren’t able to physically go to the location where he was found dead but did speak to a few people who were around at the time of the discovery. We were told that his 6 foot 3 inches long body wasn’t even dangling from the tree. There was blood on his shirt but there didn’t appear to be any physical implications at the scene to suggest that there was a struggle or any visible open wounds at that time. His body sat at the San Bernardino County Coroner for 12 days before an autopsy was performed. We understand that Victorville is a small city and have been reminded regularly that San Bernardino is very busy (as if we aren’t patient enough for necessary answers) but feel that our brother’s death will be waived off as a suicide to avoid any further media attention. Malcolm had very recent conversations with his children about seeing them soon. He didn’t seem to be depressed to anyone who truly knew him. EVERYONE who knew our brother was shocked to hear that he allegedly hung himself and don’t believe it to be true as well as the people who were there when his body was discovered. The explanation of suicide does not seem plausible. There are many ways to die but considering the current racial tension, a black man hanging himself from a tree definitely doesn’t sit well with us right now. We want justice not comfortable excuses.” The Harsch family told VVNG.
Meanwhile, about 50 miles outside of Victorville, the Palmdale community has planned a rally as city officials called for an independent investigation into the death of a black man, 24-year-old Robert Fuller, who was also found hanging in a tree near Palmdale City Hall on Wednesday.
Regarding Fuller’s death, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Friday the death was thought to be a suicide but that the investigation was ongoing.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department had no other information available for release, as the probe into Harsch’s death is also ongoing.
In a Saturday afternoon email, the City of Victorville provided VVNG with the following statement regarding the death investigation.
We grieve for Malcolm’s family and extend our deepest condolences. We understand the gravity of this situation and the family’s desire for answers. We want the lines of communication to remain open with the family, particularly knowing that they live out of state. We will be watching closely to see the results of the Sheriff’s Department investigation.City of Victorville
(The original article was updated at 4:00 PM to include a statement from the City of Victorville)