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Death of 22-year-old man found behind Bluffton Target ruled a suicide, officials say

A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy blocking off the road behind Target in Bluffton on Fording Island Road on Feb. 21.
A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy blocking off the road behind Target in Bluffton on Fording Island Road on Feb. 21. Lana Ferguson, The Island Packet.

The 22-year-old Hilton Head Island man whose body was found last month in a parking lot behind the Target in Bluffton died by suicide, according to the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office.

The cause of death was a gunshot wound, Coroner Ed Allen said Wednesday.

The man’s family had reported him missing days before his death when they had not heard from him, the release said. He had last been seen at his apartment.

A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was patrolling the area discovered the man’s Toyota Tundra pickup parked behind the Target at 9:30 a.m. on February 21, officials reported at the time. The deputy had noticed the truck matched the description of the missing man’s vehicle, ran the license plate, and it was a match.

Police found a handgun in the truck as well, a Sheriff’s Office news release had said at the time.

The death investigation is ongoing as the Sheriff’s Office awaits results from forensics tests that are being conducted at the state level, spokesperson Maj. Bob Bromage said Wednesday.

Editor’s note: The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers do not typically report on suicides but are doing so in this case because the death occurred in a public place. However, the newspapers decided not to publish his name.

Lana Ferguson has covered crime, police, and other news for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette since June 2018. Before coming to the Lowcountry, she worked for publications in her home state of Virginia and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she was editor of the college’s daily newspaper.
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