(Photo by Carl V. Lewis/THE CLUSTER)

A Mercer exchange student from China was found dead Thursday afternoon in his apartment less than a block away from campus.

Tianliang Zhang, a 24-year-old graduate engineering student, was found lying unconscious in his bedroom around 4 p.m. by his roommates at 1252 Shamrock Street, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

Zhang was last seen alive Tuesday night, and Jones said he appeared to have been dead for at least a day.

“When you’ve got a 24-year-old healthy kid dead like this, it looks suspicious to me. Every once in a while, I get a case where I break down and cry. This was one of them,” Jones said.

An autopsy performed Friday morning was inconclusive. The cause of death remains undetermined pending toxicology and histology reports from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which Jones said can take anywhere two to three months to complete.

Macon Police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said police do not suspect foul play at this time, but an investigation into the incident will continue until the cause of death can be determined.

Mercer’s chief of staff Larry Brumley said University administrators notified┬áZhang’s next of kin in China of his death late Thursday evening.

Arrangements are in the works to transport Zhang’s body to China after autopsy procedures have been conducted, Brumley said.

For more on this developing story, check back in at www.mercercluster.com and read the next issue of The Cluster.

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