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Monroe Co. Identifies Third Death Of An Unhoused Person In The Last 3 Weeks

A photo of a man experiencing homeless dead with police officers surrounding.

Mikesell, Jr. is the third man experiencing homeless to die in public during the month of May. (Ethan Burks, WFIU/WTIU News)

The Monroe County coroner’s office has identified 52-year-old Brian Mikesell, Jr. of Bloomington as the deceased man found on Kirkwood Avenue last week.

On Friday, Bloomington Police were called to check on a man lying on the sidewalk, who was then pronounced dead on-the-scene.

"Cause and manner of death are pending final autopsy and toxicology results. This will take approximately four weeks to get those final reports," coroner Joani Shields said.

Mikesell was suspected to be experiencing homeless. He is the third unhoused person to die in a public place in Bloomington this month.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Coroner IDs Man Found Dead Tuesday Morning As Roger Mathis

During the first week of May, 55-year-old Roger Mathis was found dead on the site of the former Player’s Pub, and 59-year-old William Ozias was reported dead inside a car he was living in parked outside of Wheeler Mission.

No foul play was suspected in those two incidents, according to Shields.

Rev. Forrest Gilmore, Executive Director of Beacon Shalom, said he does not believe there is any linkage to the deaths other than they were all a result of chronic homelessness.

"Chronically homeless people typically have a very low lifespan. There’s no specific attribution I could give to it," Gilmore said.

However, Gilmore said it is unusual to have this many deaths in such a short period of time.

Both Mathis and Ozias died in the same week Beacon closed its emergency winter shelter.

READ MORE: New Homeless Shelter Opens Alongside The B-Line Trail Near Switchyard Park

"One of the sad things about winter sheltering is when the weather changes those people leave and most of them are sleeping outside again," Gilmore said.

The emergency shelter opened in January to create more low-barrier shelter beds for people experiencing homelessness after tents were removed from Seminary Park throughout the winter.

"It’s not getting better, that’s the tragedy of all of it all. Despite all the conversations being had, people are still experiencing homelessness," Gilmore said.

More long-term initiatives are being executed to help solve the issue, but Gilmore said it will still be a major short-term hurdle.

The City of Bloomington will begin construction on affordable housing next to Switchyard Park in early June, and the city is working with local partners such as United Way Monroe County to come up with more solutions.

"We have moved the needle as far as providing more housing, but it’s going to take more statewide support and the blending of public and private resources," Gilmore said.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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