A 24-year-old transgender YouTube star with Asperger's Syndrome apparently threatened suicide last week and ended up dead—when he was shot by police. Officers in Mesa, Ariz., arrived at Kayden Clarke's home on Thursday morning after friends said he'd sent text messages and emails threatening to kill himself, People reports. Allowed in by friends, police reportedly encountered Clarke in a hallway brandishing a long kitchen knife. "The officers were in a small hallway that leads into the bedroom," says Det. Esteban Flores. "The door was open and it was dark; there were no lights on." Officers are said to have opened fire when Clarke lunged at them with the blade. Clarke was taken to hospital but didn't survive, the Arizona Republic reports.
The officers—who didn't know about Clarke's condition—had stun guns, but Flores says one cop was retrieving "another less-than-lethal option" at the time. They also lacked body cameras because they hadn't been assigned any (all Mesa police are slated to have them within 18 months). Clarke, born Danielle Jacobs, achieved viral YouTube fame in June when he posted a video of himself having an apparent Asperger's meltdown and being comforted by his dog, the Washington Post reports. Now an autism group in Phoenix is reacting to the tragic death, the Arizona Republic reports. "We empathize with the police, but we have a lot of unanswered questions," says an executive at the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix. "[Clarke] was very famous in our community. There is quite a bit of anger." (Read more Arizona stories.)