OKLAHOMA CITY – Police investigating the death of a man found dead inside a tent at a protest at an Oklahoma City park said Tuesday they haven't been able to determine the man's identity or how he died.
Capt. Dexter Nelson said homicide detectives were investigating the man's death because of his young age and the fact that his death was unattended.
Nelson said there were no obvious signs of trauma and that the man is believed to be in his early 20s and homeless. Someone called 911 Monday afternoon after he was found dead inside a tent at Kerr Park.
The medical examiner's office has not yet conducted an autopsy on the body. Nelson said toxicology reports could take up to eight weeks.
Protesters have been camped for several weeks at the park as part of an Occupy OKC event coordinated with similar Wall Street protests around the country.
About 20 people, a mix of protesters and homeless people who live near downtown, have been living at the park, which includes a makeshift kitchen, a food pantry and about a dozen tents scattered along the concrete floor.
Shuntel Hatten, 19, a homeless man who said he was close friends with the man who died, described him as happy and said he went be the nickname of "Street Poet."
"He delivered a poem the night before he died," Hatten said. "It was about life on the streets and how the system had failed him."
Heidi Owens, a self-described "camp mom," said she was alerted when someone found him unresponsive in a tent.
"I held him just like I would one of my own children," Owens said, choking back tears. "I was in denial, hoping he was sleeping."
She said the man also was symbolic of how the government often fails to protect its most vulnerable citizens.
"I think it's safe to say that his death says a lot about the world we live in," Owens said. "He is a walking, living, breathing example of how the system fails people."
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