The brutal beating of an Iowa teen is not being investigated as a hate crime despite allegations made by gay-rights organizations that the attackers shouted gay slurs at the victim during the beating.
Marcellus Andrews, 19, died two days after he was attacked on Aug. 19. The state medical examiner’s office said he died of blunt-force trauma to his head.
No arrests have been made in the case and police are continuing their investigation. Witnesses to the attack told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that the attackers shouted gay slurs, but police said the witnesses did not mention the slurs during initial interviews.
Andrews was at a friend’s house at approximately 1 a.m. Friday morning when a car pulled up and a fight ensued, police said. Andrews was kicked and hit in the head multiple times. He was transported to the University of Iowa Hospital, where he was taken off life support on Aug. 21.
“We’ve done multiple interviews and we have heard those allegations, but this was not because of his persuasion or the perception of his persuasion,” McNamee told The Des Moines Register.”These were all people who knew each other, and there was some bad blood between the two parties involved.”
Arguments between the groups continued through Thursday night and also resulted in a vehicle being vandalized, police said.
However, local queer-rights and safe-schools groups said that the attack is an example of why stronger protections are needed.
“The hurtful rhetoric used was the language of hate,” Troy Price, executive director of One Iowa, told The Associated Press.
Vigils for Andrews were held by community and gay-rights groups throughout the state. Andres was the captain of a local Baptist Church drill team. He was planning on attending Hawkeye Community College to study interior design.