A leading Republican candidate for Missouri’s governor’s office died in an apparent suicide on Thursday morning.
Thomas Schweich, the 54-year-old state auditor who’d just won a second term while running unopposed in 2014, was pronounced deceased from a single gunshot wound, possibly self-infliction, according to a Clayton Police Department press release.
Detectives are conducting an investigation and an autopsy is pending, authorities said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Schweich’s wife, who was in another room, heard him making phone calls – and then a gunshot. It happened just hours after Schweich had requested interviews with the Post-Dispatch and The Associated Press at his home.
Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock asked for prayers for Schweich’s family.
“I am in utter shock at the news of Tom Schweich’s tragic passing. Tom will be remembered as a tenacious, energetic, effective elected official who worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of this state and this nation,” he said. “I ask all Missourians to join me in praying for Tom’s family.”
In October, Schweich launched an audit of municipal courts in Ferguson and six other cities, an initiative that had bipartisan support, according to St. Louis Public Radio.
“More and more officials have become concerned about the abuse of the traffic court system for revenue generation purposes rather than for safety, justice and efficiency purposes,” Schweich told reporters at the time.
Missouri politicians took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon to say they were shocked by the news.
“Tom Schweich was very smart, very capable, outstanding at his job, and a good friend,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said.
“I am very sad and hurt so much for Tom Schweich’s family. Good man. Dedicated public servant. Hug those you love,” Blunt’s Democratic counterpart, Sen. Claire McCaskill, tweeted.