A.J. Cooper, a Ward 4 candidate for D.C. Council, died suddenly Wednesday morning. He was 34 and had gotten engaged less than a week ago.
Cooper had been running for the Council seat being vacated by Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser.
Peggy Cooper Cafritz, A.J.'s aunt, confirmed Cooper's death to News4. She said he was at his mother's home when he died sometime before 9 a.m.
Cooper complained about chest pain and dizziness before he collapsed, according to his campaign's Facebook page. Cooper Cafritz said his mother attempted to perform CPR.
"He was a hell of a kid who was just coming into his own," Cooper Cafritz told News4's Mark Segraves.
Algernon "Jay" Cooper III had proposed to his girlfriend, Ryan Palmer, over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to a tribute on the Elect A.J. Cooper Facebook page. "He was excited about beginning a life with Ryan and being more involved in the life of the city," the post said.
Cooper also told News4 on Monday that he was looking forward to running in the special election.
That day, he attended a Ferguson protest outside the U.S. Department of Justice.
"We need to turn all of this energy, all of this passion, all of this pain, into power, into something positive, into real change that will improve outcomes in people's lives," he said.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Cooper graduated from Roosevelt High School and the University of Maryland, according to a biography on his website. He served as policy director for D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and was once a host on BET's "Teen Summit."
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