SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The family of Ryan Calhoun, the man found hanging from a tree near the Sacramento River on April 22nd, confirmed the 36-year-old’s identity on Wednesday, April 28, following initial misconceptions and confusion.
The death, which occurred in the 200 block of Jibboom Street, sparked skepticism of law enforcement and divided the community. Some were skeptical of the Sacramento Police Department’s account of events, initially believing the incident to be a racially charged killing.
The Sacramento County Coroner, and later Calhoun’s family, put those rumors to rest, asking for privacy and respect as they grieved for the loss of their loved one. The coroner’s office confirmed he died of suicide.
“I ask for everyone to let my family grieve in peace,” the mother of Calhoun’s children said.
An online obituary for Calhoun said he previously worked as a flooring installer, played youth hockey, and served as an altar boy for St. Matthews Episcopal Church in his childhood.
Calhoun had previously been assumed to have been Black due to discoloration of his body in several photos posted online. The Sacramento Homeless Union’s legal counsel investigated the incident following conflicting reports of his race.
In the evening hours of Wednesday, April 28, the Sacramento Homeless Union’s legal counsel completed their investigation. The group issued a statement in support of Calhoun’s family, asking members of the public to delete graphic photos of the death.
“We take the deaths of our unhoused community very seriously and will continue to investigate on our own as we know their deaths are often dismissed,” Crystal Sanchez wrote. “We truly feel and understand the struggles of having a loved one on the streets and the constant fear that the families must endure. May this gentleman rest in peace and may his family find answers they are looking for and peace as well.”