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Days Later, Speculation Still Rages Over Scott's Death

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 18, 2009 3:00PM

2009_11_16_scott.jpg In a sense, the chatter over the death of Chicago Public Schools Board of Education President Michael Scott seems to be almost deafening. But we have to realize it's been only a little over two days since his body was found on the water's edge of the Chicago River; to expect a full set of answers in such a short time span is completely unrealistic. But that hasn't kept the speculation from churning, even as friends and family still try to make sense of his shocking death. At the heart of all of this is what the Tribune has labeled "a rift" between the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. On Monday afternoon, as police continued their investigation, the ME's office declared Scott's death a suicide by a "contact-range, through-and-through gunshot wound to his head," according to CCME Nancy Lynne Jones at a press conference. The rare press conference from a Medical Examiner was a defensive move as police have urged patience while they continue to investigate the circumstances around his death. His untimely death has also shown a spotlight on a few other items, including a recent probe into his usage of his board credit card, though it's reported he had already begun paying off the rather small amount ($3,000) on it.

The seeming reluctance of police to fully align with the CCME's ruling - though they haven't disputed it, either, and the ME reports two officers were present at the autopsy and agreed with the suicide ruling - dovetails with bewilderment from friends and family who are trying to come to terms with the fact that a man like Scott - by all accounts happy and doing well - would choose to kill himself. If anything, though, his death seems to underscore a lack of understanding about depression and suicide in general. And it's Mayor Daley, who's not exactly known for his public speaking eloquence, who seems to have made the most rational call for patience and reflection as the investigation continues, saying:

"You're right. This not Michael. But, you know people who, unfortunately, [where] suicide has taken place. It's not who you think they are. It's something that -- we don't know why. I wish we could find out. It's a very serious illness that takes over people."

"It would be a great disservice for all of us to start questioning why he did it or what happened. The Police Department will thoroughly investigate the incident to make sure that nothing was left on the table in regards to any questions to be asked. They'll do a thorough investigation and they will sit down with the family at the appropriate time."

Still, that hasn't kept some from speaking out as a group of clergy and community activists are scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon at which they will reportedly call for a murder investigation. Of course, their reasoning is pure conjecture:

The reasoning - they say - was partly because Scott’s first wife died in May and that his children were very distraught by the loss of their mother. Scott knew this and was helping his children seek counseling with various ministers in the Chicago area and they say no way would he have left his children to deal with that kind of tragedy. In addition, they say Scott was the primary caretaker to his sister who was very much like a mother to him and there is no way he would walk away from that.

Meanwhile, another group of clergy and Scott's family are due to address the media this morning from Holy Starlight Church. According to a press release, the group, "will gather to pray, address the media and thank the city of Chicago for their outpouring of prayers and support. “Chicago has lost a tremendous advocate for education and community development. We call for all of Chicago to pray for his family”, stated Rev. Marshall Hatch, Pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church."