Mark Mayfield, an embattled local Mississippi tea party leader, was found dead this morning in what police have deemed an apparent suicide, Mayfield’s attorney John Reeves told ABC News.
Mayfield was found deceased in a storage room inside his garage with a gunshot wound to the head when first responders arrived at his home, Ridgeland Chief of Police Jimmy Houston told ABC News.
“It looks like a suicide at this point,” Houston said. “We did find a note. We need to authenticate it, but this appears to be a suicide.”
Officers believe Mayfield used a large caliber revolver, Houston said, noting the department is running a check to determine whether Mayfield had legally registered the firearm. The only other person home at the residence at the time of the shooting was his wife, Robin Mayfield, who police said called 9-1-1 at 9:03 a.m. to report that her husband had just shot himself.
Mayfield faced felony conspiracy charges after a May 22 arrest. Authorities alleged Mayfield, 57, conspired with conservative blogger Clayton Kelly and others to photograph Sen. Thad Cochran’s incapacitated wife in her nursing home and use the photos in a political advertisement.
Cochran fended off a challenge from tea party favorite Chris McDaniel in the state’s primary run-off earlier this week.
Mayfield, who was himself an attorney, formerly sat on the board of directors at the Central Mississippi Tea Party.
Reeves said he was in a “state of shock” that Mayfield took his own life. Mayfield’s case was set to go before a grand jury next month.
Earlier this year, Kelly allegedly filmed Cochran’s wife, who suffers from dementia, and then put the video online. McDaniel disavowed the act and claimed he had no relationship with Kelly.
“Regardless of recent allegations made against his character, Mark Mayfield was a fine Christian man who was always respectful and kind,” McDaniel wrote in a statement reacting to his death. “He was one of the most polite and humble men I’ve ever met in politics. He was a loving husband, father, a pillar of his community, and he will be missed. We are saddened by his loss, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, his family and friends.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted today that he and his wife are “saddened to hear of the loss of Mark Mayfield. He was a long-time friend, and he will be missed. Our prayers go out to his family in this tragic moment.”