The half-brother of a man found hanged from a tree in Southern California was involved in a gunfight with authorities Wednesday in the Mojave Desert, law enforcement sources told NBC News and NBC Los Angeles.
One person died and another was injured in the shooting in the high-desert community of Rosamond, about 56 miles northeast of Los Angeles, sources said.
A man believed to have been in the gunfight with a specialized team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is the half-brother of Robert Fuller, 24, found hanged June 10 near Palmdale City Hall, law enforcement and family sources said.
“This afternoon I had to notify the sisters of Robert Fuller that their half-brother” was killed in the shooting, said Jamon R. Hicks, a lawyer for Fuller’s family, in a statement Wednesday night.
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Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the person involved in the firefight. But the same individual was named in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court that alleges assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, domestic violence and criminal threats.
The suspect was wanted for holding a woman against her will in an attempt to get information about Fuller’s death, sources said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials initially said Fuller’s death appeared to be a suicide. Amid protests over the death of George Floyd, family members and activists have staged demonstrations outside Palmdale City Hall to demand a second opinion.
Hicks said on Tuesday that the family was calling for an independent investigation and autopsy.
“The Sheriff’s Department immediately declared his death a suicide without completing a full and thorough investigation,” Hicks said in a statement.
Following Fuller’s death, authorities in Victorville, about 53 miles east of Palmdale, reported that a man named Malcolm Harsch was found dead May 31 after he was “cut down” from a tree by people near a homeless encampment, according to a police statement.
“Although there remains no sign of foul play, the forensic pathologist is waiting for toxicology results before assigning the cause and manner of death,” Victorville police said Monday.
The FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office for Central California and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were reviewing the investigations into the two deaths, the FBI said.
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security.