CHICAGO - The death of Chicago school board president Michael Scott has been ruled a suicide by the Cook County medical examiner's office, but police said this afternoon they are continuing to look into the death and that detectives are still "early on in the investigation."
There are "just a lot of things we have look at before we have a definite answer," Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said at an afternoon news conference. Once the investigation is conducted "then we'll make a decision as to what we believe the cause of death to be."
Scott was found with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head, according to authorities. His body was found early this morning at the water's edge of the Chicago River behind the Chicago Apparel Center at 350 N. Orleans along the north branch of the river, police said.
He apparently fell forward after shooting himself, and a .380-caliber gun was found under the body, police sources say. No note was found at the scene and detectives are trying to track down the gun's registration, police said.
Rev. Jesse Jackson spent much of the day with Scott's relatives today and said they had seen no evidence that indicated his death was a suicide. He said no evidence had been presented to the family that suggested Scott had written a suicide note.
"It was a very somber and reflective atmosphere," Jackson said.
Scott's family reported him missing just after midnight Monday though sources said the search started several hours earlier.
Scott was last seen Sunday at 6 p.m. after he visited his sister at a South Loop nursing home, a relative said. He brought a pizza there, the family told Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Scott.
The relative said he visited his sister regularly on Sundays and described him as a creature of habit.
Around 3:15 a.m. today, police found Scott's blue Cadillac parked next to a trash bin yards away from where he was discovered along the river, police say. The car was winched onto a tow truck about 6:30 a.m.
"The family of Michael W. Scott deeply appreciates the outpouring of support during this time of unimaginable grief," according to a statement by Scott's family released through Chicago Public Schools. "Our personal loss is also shared by many throughout Chicago, the home he loved so much. We will miss him greatly."
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley visited Scott's family in their West Side home in the morning and spoke afterwards outside the home, expressing condolences to Scott's wife, son and daughter and saying what a shock the death was.
He said he saw Scott at a school-related meeting last week and Scott did not appear troubled at the time.
"He always helped people," Daley said. "He always had a smile, he was always upbeat."
"He loved Chicago just as much as I did."
Asked if federal scrutiny of admissions into some public schools may have contributed to Scott's death, Daley said that had nothing to do with it.
Scott was among officials subpoenaed this summer in a federal investigation of admissions practices at Chicago's selective enrollment high schools.
Scott also found himself in the spotlight this spring and summer when the Tribune published several stories related to his key role as a member of Daley's Chicago 2016 Olympic committee and his real estate dealings.
Year in review 2009