Malcolm Shabazz, the 28-year-old grandson of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, was killed in Mexico on Thursday. Initially, it was suspected he was killed from being shot or shoved off a roof during a robbery, but a friend who said he was with Shabazz at the time says he was killed over a bar bill.

Shabazz had been visiting labor activist Miguel Suarez, who was deported from the U.S. According to the AP, "Suarez said he was with Shabazz when his friend was beaten up during a dispute over a bill at a Mexico City bar," explaining that "they and several other people had gone to a bar near the downtown plaza that is home to Mexico City's mariachis. He said Friday the owner demanded they pay a $1,200 bill and a fight ensued. Suarez says he later found Shabazz injured outside the bar and took him to a hospital where he died on Thursday." Suarez said of Shabazz, "He was in shock. His face was messed up." Shabazz died of blunt force injuries.

Shabazz had a troubled life: At 12, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for setting a fire that killed his grandmother Betty Shabazz (experts called him "psychotic" and "schizophrenic") and served time for other incidents. The NY Times reports, "He lived in the shadow of his grandfather, whom he never knew, and whose legacy he tried to understand. He embraced his famous heritage and, at times, recoiled from the expectations that came with it," and he said in 2003, "People know Malcolm Shabazz, whether you like me or not." From the Times:

Kinte Burrell, 34, one of Mr. Shabazz’s friends from Middletown, N.Y., north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, where he had a home, said in an interview on Friday that he first met Mr. Shabazz when he was about 18.

“People would ask for his autograph and take pictures with him,” he said. “Other times, they would be like, you should have gotten more time, just because who you are, you shouldn’t get away with this.”

Such tension, Mr. Burrell said, sometimes led to fistfights. “I can see him just wanting to get away,” he said.

Friends said that in recent years, he had often ventured abroad, mostly to the Middle East. The trips, for conferences or Muslim pilgrimages, allowed him to escape his tabloid youth and to step into a role that Malcolm X also played later in life — that of an activist, shedding light on injustice and rallying for black causes worldwide.

His family released a statement, "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved El Hajj Malcolm El Shabazz. To all who knew him, he offered kindness, encouragement and hope for a better tomorrow. Although his bright light and boundless potential are gone from this life, we are grateful that he now rests in peace in the arms of his grandparents and the safety of God. We will miss him."

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said, "He was an international figure, his grandfather. That's a tremendous legacy for all of them. We think that children can adapt to everything, and sometimes we think that because we want them to," and Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem told the Journal News"He's really just a youngster, a very young man who was just struggling to get his life moving on a forward-looking track. He was always concerned about forging his own path. I'm just sad that things turned out the way they did."