Police say death of Arizona man is not being investigated as a homicide

A Mesa Police spokesman refuted reports circulating in conservative media outlets, calling them "inaccurate."

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By Vaughn Hillyard

PHOENIX — Police said Wednesday that the death of an Arizona man who consumed a form of chloroquine phosphate in March is not being investigated as a homicide at this time.

Gary Lenius, a resident of Mesa, died on March 22 after he, along with his wife Wanda, consumed a version of chloroquine phosphate intended to treat fish for parasites.

“This investigation is not being treated as a homicide. The death of Gary Lenius has not been ruled a homicide at this time,” Mesa Police Department spokesman Jason Flam told NBC News.

Flam said the department's homicide unit is involved because it "investigates all reported deaths within the City of Mesa” — from deaths related to car accidents to the elderly in hospice.

“It’s still an active, ongoing investigation,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet, published an article reporting that a “homicide investigation” into Wanda Lenius was underway. Flam called that report, which has circulated widely in other conservative outlets, “inaccurate.”

Wanda Lenius told NBC News in an interview in late March that she had the non-prescribed chloroquine phosphate at her home for the koi fish that the couple once owned. She said they both each mixed one teaspoon of the non-prescribed chloroquine phosphate with soda. Gary Lenius died at the hospital, and Wanda Lenius remained in critical condition at the hospital for multiple days.

In the interview, Lenius said that she heard Trump tout the chemical during his briefings from the White House. “We saw Trump on TV — every channel — and all of his buddies and that this was safe and that it was, you know, okay to take — and that may well be true, but we didn't know the proper dosage and or anything.”

A recent report by the New York Times showed a direct link between Trump touting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases and malaria, and a surge in first-time prescriptions.

“I think it could be something really incredible,” Trump said on March 19. By that evening, first-time prescriptions for the drugs poured into pharmacies at 46 times the rate of the average week day, the Times found.