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Mississippi lawmaker found dead of apparent gunshot wound

AP / File

Rep. Jessica Upshaw was found dead from a gunshot wound Sunday afternoon.

Mississippi officials are investigating the death of state legislator who was found at the home of a former colleague Sunday afternoon, according to authorities.

State Rep. Jessica Upshaw, 53, appeared to have died of a gunshot wound, Simpson County Sheriff Kenneth Lewis told NBC station WLBT in Jackson, Miss.  

“It appeared she had a gunshot wound to her head. It appeared to be self-inflicted,” Lewis told WLBT .

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation, and thus far have said little about the ongoing investigation.

Upshaw, a Republican who had served in the state legislature since 2004 representing District 95, was discovered at the private residence of former state lawmaker Clint Rotenberry, in Mendenhall, Miss., more than 100 miles from her home near the Gulf Coast.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) released a statement Sunday evening praising the late lawmaker.

"I have known Jessica for many years as an unselfish and dedicated public servant. This is a tragic loss for her family and all Mississippians, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time," Bryant said.

Upshaw's death marks the fifth time in as many months that a Mississippi lawmaker has passed away, although the other four died of natural causes.

"Once again this session, the House has been touched by tragedy," Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, said in a statement. "Rep. Jessica Upshaw was an outstanding legislator and friend. She was one of the brightest and most competent members of the House."

Upshaw, a former attorney, was chairwoman of the Conservation and Natural Resources Committee in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report