Former Sen. Robert Brown dead from self-inflicted gunshot wound

Former state Sen. Robert Brown of Macon has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, 13WMAZ is reporting based on information received from Bibb County coroner Leon Jones.

Jones told the television news program that Brown was found dead Thursday at his home in East Macon. He was 61.

Brown served in the state Senate for about 20 years, rising to the rank of Democratic leader before resigning his seat to run unsuccessfully for mayor of Macon this year. After he first won his seat in the state Legislature in a special election in 1991, Brown became the first black person to represent Bibb County in the Senate since Reconstruction. He previously served on the Bibb Board of Education.

State Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, who sat next to Brown in the Senate, described him as gifted orator and a brilliant mind who cared about fighting poverty in rural Georgia.

“We are all trying to process it. I’m pretty broken up about it,” Carter said Thursday. “He was staunchly committed to a government that worked for people and not for special interests and big corporations.”

Senate Democrats announced Thursday they are planning a tribute for Brown for some time during the upcoming legislative session, which is set to begin Jan. 9.

"Robert's impact on Democratic politics and our caucus will live on for many years," Sen. Steve Henson, of Tucker, who succeeded Brown as Democratic Senate minority leader this year, said in a prepared statement. "He had a keen ability to read people and know when to be forceful and when to be patient."

Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta, the Democratic whip, called Brown a statesman and a gentleman.

"Because of his quiet nature he was well suited to take on the toughest causes," Fort said. "He was my friend and his absence will be a void in my life."

Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna, the Senate Democratic Caucus chairman, praised Brown for his political acumen.

"Robert could view politics and political strategy several moves out -- it was his trademark skill," Stoner said. "His demeanor ensured every voice was heard and then brilliantly bring our members to a point of clarity and focus."