Tom Schweich, a Republican candidate for Missouri governor, has died after apparently shooting himself quarter of an hour after inviting journalists to his house in St Louis.
Police Chief Kevin R Murphy said: "What we know at this point suggests an apparent suicide." He was pronounced dead in hospital after a single gunshot.
The death of Schweich, who was an auditor, has stunned local officials. Tributes to Schweich describe him and "devoted", "brilliant", and with an "unblemished record". He announced his candidacy for Missouri governor one month ago.
Emergency services were called to his home just 13 minutes after he spoke to journalists about anti-Semitic complaints.
Schweich had spoken on the phone to Associated Press reporters about plans to make public allegations of anti-Semitism against the head of the Missouri Republican Party, John Hancock. Hancock denied making anti-Semitic comments.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist Tony Messenger said he had received a message from Schweich that morning, inviting a Post-Dispatch reporter and an Associated Press reporter to his home that afternoon, the New York Times reports.
Episcopalian Scheweich had Jewish ancestry and attended a local church. Associated Press reports that Hancock had been telling people that Schweich was Jewish in autumn 2014, which Schweich felt was anti-Semitic.
"I don't have a specific recollection of having said that, but it's plausible that I would have told somebody that Tom was Jewish because I thought he was," Hancock told AP, "but I wouldn't have said it in a derogatory or demeaning fashion."
He added that the two had spoken about the remarks in November, but not since.
Hancock released the following statement after Schweich's death: “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. I ask all Missourians to join me in praying for Tom’s family.”Reuse content