Pete Buttigieg pulled himself off the presidential campaign trail on Monday and returned to his day job as mayor of South Bend, Ind., after a police officer there shot and killed a black man.
“I know that whenever an incident like this happens, there is tremendous hurt that can come about,” Mr. Buttigieg said at a news conference on Sunday night.
The downshift from national campaigning comes at a time when Mr. Buttigieg has risen to the top tier of 2020 Democratic candidates. But he has struggled to win over African-American voters in early-voting states like South Carolina.
He presides over a midsize city with a large minority population, where his relations with African-American voters were damaged early in his tenure after he fired the city’s first black police chief. Mr. Buttigieg said the chief improperly handled recordings of police officers’ phone calls, a case that dragged through the courts for years.
Mr. Buttigieg, 37, has worked hard to mend fences at home and as a candidate, but his rallies have been characterized by a paucity of black faces.
The latest episode risks highlighting friction between the police and minority communities in South Bend, but it also offers Mr. Buttigieg a platform to show his command of the issue.
One of the reasons he hurried home, he said, was because of past lessons learned.
“We’ve had prior cases of use-of-force incidents and officer-involved shootings where I hesitated, frankly, to get in front of cameras because we didn’t know very much and it was out of our hands,” he said. “But what I learned, what I was told by people in the community, is it’s important to open channels of communication.”
The man killed by the police, Eric Logan, 54, was shot around 3:30 a.m. Sunday after the police responded to a report of a person rifling through cars downtown, according to the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office.
The authorities said that when an officer approached Mr. Logan, he raised a knife and was shot and killed.
Mr. Logan’s widow, Shafonia Logan, 50, said on Monday that she had more questions than answers. “I want justice for my husband,” she told reporters. “What they say is he was breaking into a car. Was that justifiable to shoot and kill him?”
Mr. Buttigieg withdrew from an L.G.B.T. gala in New York on Monday night. He also canceled a series of fund-raising events he was scheduled to attend Tuesday and Wednesday in California with entertainment figures, including the director and producer Ryan Murphy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The rollout of a new policy originally set for Wednesday is also being rescheduled.
It is unclear how long Mr. Buttigieg, who raised an impressive $7 million in April, will remain off the campaign trail.