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Friends of Hanging Victim Allege He Was Lynched

January 18, 1986

CONCORD, Calif. (AP) _ Piercing screams that roused several neighbors from their sleep proves that a black homosexual found hanging at a transit station was lynched and did not commit suicide, according to a black organization.

″We didn’t believe from day one that it was suicide,″ Thordie Ashley, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Friday. ″I think the screams will help show he was murdered.″

The association rejects a police report calling the Nov. 2 death of Timothy Lee a suicide and has asked for a federal probe, citing ″numerous reports of racial intolerance″ in recent months in this city 35 miles east of San Francisco.

In documents filed with the FBI, neighbors say they heard screams and people running at a transit station where a Lee was found hanging. The agency is investigating the possibility the man was lynched.

Friends and family members said Lee, 23 had called for a ride home from the station and had given no clue of depression then, or in the days before his death.

Marilyn Hannum and Bill Callison, who share a home near the station, said they heard screams about 15 minutes later. Ms. Hannum said she thought it was some sort of hazing.

″If I would have realized as terrible a thing was going on, I would have rushed out there, or called police,″ said Ms. Hannum. ″It didn’t leap to my mind that someone’s actually being murdered - and now I’m living with that.″

″They were loud screams, repeated, that seemed to be coming from the BART (parking) lot,″ she said. ″When I got up and got dressed and went outside, the screaming had stopped.″

About 10 minutes later, Callison heard ″three or four screams ... followed by a final scream which had a rising pitch and ended suddenly.″

They say they then heard at least two or three people running and getting into a car within 30 seconds of the last scream.

Other residents of the racially mixed, working class neighborhood heard nothing, and say a racial attack would be out of character for the area. They said, however, that BART trains sometimes bring unwelcome visitors.

Hours before Lee died, two men wearing Ku Klux Klan-style robes stabbed two black men in the parking lot of a Concord bar. The men, who told police they were dressed up for a belated Halloween party, were charged in the attack.

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