A vocal former employee who exposed a mass data purge at a federal public security agency was found dead in California on Feb. 21.

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whistleblower Philip Haney suffered a fatal gunshot injury before authorities found his lifeless body just after 10 a.m. local time in Plymouth, 41 miles east of downtown Sacramento.

“Deputies and detectives responded to the area of Highway 124 and Highway 16 in Plymouth to the report of a male subject on the ground with a gunshot wound,” Amador County Sheriff Martin Ryan said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Upon their arrival they located and identified 66-year-old Philip Haney, who was deceased and appeared to have suffered a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The grisly discovery came after the former civil servant was reported missing just two days earlier and more than three years after he publicly testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that DHS instructed him to delete hundreds of files containing information about people linked to Islamist terrorist groups.

Haney was concerned the deleted information could have prevented multiple terrorist attacks against the United States had the department not decided to purge the data, and was planning to write a nonfiction book about the incident, according to Breitbart.

Authorities confirmed it had found the weapon but did not appear to suspect a murder.

“A firearm was located next to Haney and his vehicle,” Ryan said. “This investigation is active an ongoing. No further details will be released at this time.”

However, several House Republicans did not accept the sheriff’s explanation that Haney’s death was a suicide.

“Phil Haney did not kill himself,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on Twitter. “He was a target because of all he knew of Islamic terrorist coverups.”

King described the victim as a “friend and patriot.”

“He insured his life by archiving data that incriminated the highest levels of the Obama administration,” he said. “Rest in peace, Phil.”

The concerns prompted one television reporter to do further investigative journalism that produced interviews suggesting Haney could have been murdered.

“We have spoken with local sources that suggest this may have been a homicide,” One America News Network correspondent Jack Posobiec said on Twitter. “We are investigating the suspicious death of DHS whistleblower Phil Haney … updates to follow as our investigation develops.”

Possible evidence that could support this theory is the whistleblower’s repeated remarks to multiple witnesses that “If I am found dead it was not suicide,” according to Breitbart.