Friends of a Waterloo teen who died after being kicked and punched are reporting that his attackers were shouting anti-gay slurs. No one has been arrested in the case.
Police say 19-year-old Marcellus Andrews was brutally beaten outside a friend’s home early last Friday morning. He was hospitalized before being taken off life support Sunday afternoon.
Troy Price is executive director of the gay rights organization One Iowa. “The language that was used during this attack is very alarming and very concerning to us,” Price said. “Regardless of how the investigation turns out as to whether this was a hate crime or not, the fact is there was derogatory, hurtful and harmful language. This person was taunted for what appears to be his perceived sexuality.”
Waterloo Police Lieutenant Michael McNamee says they’re still investigating the assault and the claims about why Andrews was targeted.
“We’ve heard those allegations. We’re not ruling that out. We’re looking at every aspect of what went on that night. At this point, I don’t know if that necessarily has anything to do with the altercation,” McNamee said.
Price calls the incident a “wake-up call” and says problems with bullying and taunting are far too common among Iowa’s youth.
“It’s an absolute tragedy and it’s something that Iowans need to recognize happens here in this state,” Price said. “I hope Iowans will take this opportunity to reflect upon the fact that we need to talk about the issues affecting gay and lesbian Iowans and hope this never happens again.”
Andrews was an active member of the Union Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo. He was slated to start studying interior design at Hawkeye Community College.
Jillian Petrus, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids also contributed to this story.