A man whose body was discovered inside of a barrel at Malibu Lagoon State Beach earlier this week was shot in the head, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner has determined.

The man was identified as Javonnta Murphy, a 32-year-old Sylmar man, earlier this week but no cause of death was given. The coroner’s publicly available case information now lists the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head.

The circumstances that led to Murphy being shot and sealed inside a barrel remain unclear. The death is currently under investigation by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office.

The barrel was first spotted Sunday floating in the water off the Malibu beach by a maintenance worker, according to Lt. Hugo Reynaga of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

The worker kayaked out and pulled the 55-gallon drum back to shore. The next morning a lifeguard on duty spotted the barrel, which was once bobbing in the lagoon, and swam out to retrieve it. When he opened it on shore, he discovered a body inside.

Murphy was a rapper who aspired to become a successful musician before his life was cut short. He was also the father of a young son, according to Patrick Nelson, a family friend.

“He was a good kid, good person,” Nelson previously told The Times. “What happened to him, I just don’t understand.”



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