Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More on the Shocking Death of Warner Robins Mayor Donald Walker: Autopsy today could shed light on death of WR Mayor Walker

Mayor Donald Walker, who in 15 years helped the city stabilize its finances, double in size and get past a scandal that saw its previous mayor imprisoned, died Monday afternoon from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Walker died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

Walker, 60, had been in failing health for some time, having battled heart problems and pain in his left foot from an injury more than 10 years ago. But, friends say, he had surgery on his foot last year, quit smoking and seemed in good spirits in recent weeks.

The mayor’s sudden death — and the circumstances surrounding it — have left many people wondering if there was something they didn’t catch that could have been wrong.

The official cause of death won’t be determined until after an autopsy, scheduled for 10 a.m. today in Warner Robins. The mayor’s body was taken Monday afternoon, with a police escort, to the Houston Medical Center for the autopsy by Houston County’s medical examiner, Dr. James Quincy Whitaker.

Walker ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1992, but then won a 1994 special election held because the city’s mayor, Ed Martin, resigned after his involvement in a blackmail scandal involving other local political figures came to light.

Friends and longtime political followers say he enjoyed the part of being mayor that allowed him to get into the city and talk with ordinary citizens, business owners and schoolchildren.

In 1997, Walker won re-election handily with 85 percent of the vote. Then in 2001, state Rep. Pam Bohannon, with whom Walker already had a tense relationship, challenged him. Walker took 64 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2005.

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