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Rapid City police are now investigating Wednesday's fatal shooting as an "unattended death" while not ruling out that it may have been a homicide.

"Police have encountered several complicating factors as they work to investigate the specific circumstances surrounding the shooting," the department said Thursday in a press release.

Brendyn Medina, a police department spokesman, confirmed later Thursday that investigation is ongoing as the department examines new evidence it has uncovered.

"There's room for it to go either way," he told the Journal. 

Wednesday's shooting death was originally ruled as the city's second homicide in less than 24 hours in northeast part of town.

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It was around 3 p.m. Wednesday when a caller from a home on the 300 block of East Adams Street reported finding an unconscious man, later identified as 20-year-old Michael Mayweather of Rapid City, in the backyard. Once police arrived, they found him with a gunshot wound to the head. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

During the initial search, police didn't find a gun and suggested the wound was not self-inflicted, the release says. But police later found a gun in a window well underneath a plastic window cover and determined that someone inside the home tried to hide it. 

The autopsy revealed the gunshot wound was possibly self-inflicted, according to the press release. The police collected evidence from the home and its residents and will test the evidence for gunshot residue, which can take months. 

Police Chief Karl Jegeris said the department often initially treats unattended deaths as possible homicides.

"As a law enforcement agency, it’s our responsibility to diligently investigate the circumstances of any unattended death," he said in the press release. "This often means treating an unattended death as a homicide investigation, until evidence gathered suggests otherwise. In this case, we feel the public nature of the shooting incident warrants a high level of transparency into the investigation. It’s very important that the community understand the often-difficult nature of the work our officers are presented with.”

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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