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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Police and relatives of a Minnesota man who officials said hanged himself in a city park want the public to stop sharing photos of his death that have sparked social media speculation that he was the victim of a hate crime.
St. Paul police said a passerby discovered Michael Bringle, 50, hanging from a tree in Indian Mounds Regional Park early Tuesday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Facebook post that featured a photo of Bringle included speculation that the man was black and that his hands were tied behind his back, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported . Bringle was white.
The post has been shared thousands of times.
The Ramsey County medical examiner said there's no evidence the death was anything other than a suicide, and St. Paul police Sgt. Mike Ernster called the post disgusting.
Bringle's sister, Kelly Brown-Rozowski, said at a press conference Tuesday that her brother should be remembered as a kind person and the rumors only compounded their tragedy.
The photo appeared on the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook page for several hours before being taken down.
In a post Tuesday night, the group apologized to Bringle's family and said it retracted its earlier statements.
"As more information came out & Mr.Bringle's family came forward it became clear that this was an unfortunate incident caused by mental illness," the group's statement read, adding we "hope that folks see we were simply echoing the questions and concerns that community members had."