Hyattsville Mayor Kevin Ward (D), who was elected to lead the city last year, died on Tuesday in an apparent suicide.
The 44-year-old was found dead in Fort Marcy Park in McLean, Virginia, with an apparent “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Park Police.
Ward and his husband, who were raising two sons together, moved to Hyattsville in 2014. He worked as a consultant in educational technology and human services technology, and was first elected to office in 2015 as one of two Ward 1 council members.
He was re-elected in 2019, later rising to the position of Council President. Due to his role as Council President, he became interim mayor in January 2021 following the resignation of Mayor Candace Hollingsworth, and was elected mayor in his own right in May 2021.
Ward is remembered as someone who loved Hyattsville, referring to the city in campaign statements as the “jewel in the crown of Prince George’s County.” His major political accomplishments including co-sponsoring legislation to designate Hyattsville a “sanctuary city,” expanding civic engagement, and working to ensure Hyattsville Middle School remained a construction priority, reports The Washington Post.
Ward was mourned by colleagues and lawmakers across the state — many of whom were shocked by his death — who characterized him as a dedicated public servant.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) tweeted that he and First Lady Yumi Hogan were “saddened” to learn of Ward’s passing.
“We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the Ward family and the people of Hyattsville as they grieve this tragic loss,” he said.
Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md.), who represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, including Hyattsville, also issued his condolences to Ward’s family and city residents in a tweet, calling Ward a “dedicated, thoughtful and fiercely passionate public servant.”
“[Ward] was a wonderful partner in serving the needs of all our residents, and he accomplished so much for Hyattsville during his time as a Councilmember and his time as Mayor,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement. “We will continue to uplift his family, friends and loved ones in our prayers during this difficult time.”
State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy (D), who called Ward a personal friend, said he had been unafraid “to live his truth as the first openly gay mayor of Hyattsville.”
“He will be missed for the leadership and support that he brought to Prince George’s County as well as the joy that he gave us with his radiant smile,” she said.
Hyattsville City Council Vice President Robert Croslin will succeed Ward, serving as interim mayor until a new election can be held.
If you or someone you know is struggling or contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255), texting “STRENGTH” to its Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or visiting the organization’s website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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