MEXICO CITY (AP) — Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of political activist Malcolm X, died while traveling in Mexico, U.S. officials confirmed Friday. He was 28.
Two U.S. officials said Shabazz was killed Thursday morning in Mexico City. They did not provide additional details and they spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Shabazz family publicist Terrie Williams confirmed the death to The Associated Press and said the family would issue a statement later.
Labor activist Miguel Suarez said he was with Shabazz when his friend was beaten up during a dispute over a bill at a Mexico City bar.
Suarez, who was recently deported from the United States to Mexico, told the AP that they and several other people had gone to a bar near the downtown plaza that is home to Mexico City's mariachis.
He said Friday the owner demanded they pay a $1,200 bill and a fight ensued. Suarez says he later found Shabazz injured outside the bar and took him to a hospital where he died on Thursday.
Shabazz was born in 1984 to Qubilah Shabazz, one of six daughters of Malcolm X and his wife Betty Shabazz. Qubilah was 4 years old when she saw her father shot to death as he delivered a speech in a Harlem ballroom in 1965.
In June 1997, Malcolm Shabazz, then 12, set a fire at his grandmother Betty Shabazz's home. She died from severe burns, and he served four years in juvenile detention.
He later expressed regret for his actions, telling The New York Times in 2003 that he would sit on his jail cot and ask for a sign of forgiveness from his dead grandmother.
"I just wanted her to know I was sorry and I wanted to know she accepted my apology, that I didn't mean it," he said. "But I would get no response, and I really wanted that response."
Shabazz also served time on a 2002 attempted robbery conviction, and was released in 2005. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for smashing the window of a Yonkers doughnut shop.
In recent years, Shabazz said he was writing a memoir and traveling the United States to speak out against youth violence. On his Facebook profile, he said he was attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
He proudly embraced his grandfather's legacy, describing himself on his Twitter page as "Grandson, name-sake and first male heir of the greatest revolutionary leader of the 20th century."
Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report from Washington.