Police Won't Rule Scott's Death a Suicide Yet

By Andrew Greiner, Charlie Wojciechowski and Kim Vatis
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 5:34 PM CDT
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Gov. Quinn, Jesse Jackson Comment on Michael Scott's Death

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The body of School Board President Michael Scott may have been found in the Chicago River.

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Gov. Quinn, Jesse Jackson Comment on Michael Scott's Death

Chicago school board president Michael Scott was found dead early Monday, apparently by suicide.

Gov. Quinn, Jesse Jackson Comment on Michael Scott's Death

Chicago school board president Michael Scott was found dead early Monday, apparently by suicide.
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Although Chicago school board president Michael Scott's death has been ruled a suicide by the Cook County medical examiner's office, Chicago police are characterizing the  case as a death investigation, and have not concluded that Scott's death was a suicide.

"We want to conduct a thorough investigation before we make that determination ourselves," said police superintendent Jody Weis at a press conference this afternoon.

Scott's body was found at the water's edge of the Chicago River with a gunshot wound to the head this morning. Scott’s Cadillac was found nearby. Scott’s family had reported him missing around midnight Sunday.

Police used "various investigative techniques" to find his body and his car behind the Chicago Apparel Center along the north branch of the river.

Police are "working backwards" to discover what cameras in the area that may have captured Scott's suicide.

It is unknown whether Scott has any firearms registered to him. A gun was found near Scott's body.

Officials React
Mayor Daley visited Scott's family in their West Side home. Speaking afterward and visibly upset, he expressed condolences to Scott's wife, son and daughter.

"Michael was a wonderful friend of mine," Daley said. "He loved Chicago as much as I did. He was so devoted to the children of Chicago. He didn't do it for the publicity."

In a statement, CPS CEO Ron Huberman said he was "heartbroken and saddened by the unspeakable tragedy." Speaking at CPS headquarters, Huberman said "the Chicago Public School system is a better school system because of him."

Speaking at the Thompson Center earlier today, Gov. Pat Quinn called Scott's death a "human tragedy."

"It's really a very sad day for Illinois," Quinn added. "He had a servant's heart.  He worked so hard on education and many, many other issues. He was a gentle man, a real great guy, and I think our whole state should be very sad today."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was on the scene early, saying that people have been calling him in tears all morning.

"I'm stunned," he said. "Michael was so effervescent. [He] always had a capacity to solve problems, that's why people leaned on him. Everyone felt Michael was their guy."

Jackson also added that Scott "had a real roots connection to Chicago, from the very low zone of pain and poverty to the high zone of the upper echelon of Chicago. The mayor probably leaned on Michael the most because there was nothing he could not do well."

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger issued a statement about Scott's alleged death earlier this morning.

"My wife and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Scott," Stroger said in the release.

U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush also released a statement about Scott.

“Michael Scott was a personal friend of mine and I am stunned by the news of his tragic death. He was an outstanding public servant, a champion for the little guy and a remarkable example of excellence,” Rep. Rush said.

Scott's Background
Scott was serving his second stint as Chicago Public Schools Board president. His first term came between 2001 and 2006. Then Mayor Daley reappointed him in February of 2009 after he fired Rufus Williams.

Scott was known as an official who works hard to reach out to the community.

“This is a really interesting job, for which you get no pay,” Scott told the Chicago Tribune upon his reappointment to the post. “You are always second-guessed and questioned. But you always as best as you can make those decisions that you believe are in the best interests of schoolchildren.”

Besides serving as schools chief, Scott has also held public posts under Mayors Jane Byrne, Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer . Scott worked as Park District board president and a member on the boards of the RTA and Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority for the Daley administration.

Recently, Scott made news when he was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury looking into the admissions practices of Chicago's elite schools.

Scott was also under scrutiny in the past few months over Olympics-related real estate dealings.

A key member of Mayor Daley's Olympic committee, Scott also served as a consultant to a major condominium developer who proposed to build near the Olympic Village site.

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