Family says Malcolm Harsch, Black man found hanging from tree, died by apparent suicide

Malcolm Harsch, 38.
(Harmonie Harsch)

Malcolm Harsch, the Black man found hanging from a tree near a library in Victorville, died from an apparent suicide, according to family.

In a statement released Friday, the family said Harsch took his own life.

Najee Ali, a community activist and spokesman for Harsch’s family, said in the statement that police showed the family “video evidence.”

As the investigation into the May 31 death of Harsch continued, detectives obtained surveillance video from a vacant building near where his body was discovered. The video confirmed the absence of foul play, authorities said.


Detectives also met with Harsch’s family members. The evidence from the case, including the surveillance video, was shown to the relatives per their request. Although there remains no sign of foul play, the forensic pathologist is waiting for toxicology results before assigning the cause and manner of death.

“The family wants to sincerely thank everyone for their support and prayers,” Ali wrote.

Malcolm Harsch’s sister, Harmonie, said on her Facebook account that her brother was a loving person.

“He was caring. Respectable. Talented. Loved his music. He was a son, a brother, a dad, a grandfather, a friend and he love every single person like his family,” she said.

Harsch, who was homeless, was found hanging from a tree on the morning of May 31 near the city’s library.

The Victorville Fire Department responded around 7 a.m., officials said.

On Monday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department offered more details, saying deputies were called to a homeless encampment regarding Harsch.

“The caller said she and [her] boyfriend, later identified as Malcolm Harsch, had been together during the morning, but she had since returned to her tent for a short period of time. She was alerted by others in the encampment that Mr. Harsch was found hanging from a tree and cut down. People in the encampment were performing CPR, attempting to revive Mr. Harsch,” the statement said.

“Upon arrival, deputies immediately took over and continued CPR. Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene a short time later, and despite additional lifesaving efforts, pronounced Mr. Harsch deceased,” officials added.

An autopsy was conducted, and officials said they saw no signs of foul play. But Harsch’s family and others were skeptical and demanded an independent investigation.

In a statement sent to the Victor Valley News, Harsch’s family members in Ohio said they found it hard to accept that his death was a suicide. They said Harsch had recent conversations with his children about seeing them soon and that to those who knew him, he didn’t seem depressed.

“The explanation of suicide does not seem plausible,” the family wrote. “There are many ways to die, but considering the current racial tension, a Black man hanging himself from a tree definitely doesn’t sit well with us right now.

“We want justice, not comfortable excuses,” they wrote.

After continued questions and protests over the recent death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man found hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall, the FBI said it would examine both cases.

The Harsch family said they plan to fly his body back home to Ohio.