WATERLOO, Iowa – The beating death of a Waterloo man is not being investigated as a hate crime despite allegations by two gay rights groups that slurs were made about his sexual orientation, police said.
Marcellus Andrews, 19, died Sunday from injuries suffered in a fight two days earlier. The state medical examiner’s office said Andrews died of blunt force trauma to his head, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported Wednesday.
No arrests have been made and police are still interviewing witnesses.
Witnesses told the Courier that people involved in the fight had taunted Andrews with anti-gay slurs, but police said none of the witnesses mentioned the slurs during interviews with detectives.
One Iowa and Iowa Safe Schools, which advocate acceptance for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals and work against bullying and hate speech, has sought to have Andrews’ death investigated as a hate crime.
“The hurtful rhetoric used was the language of hate,” said Troy Price, executive director of One Iowa.
Andrews’ death points to the “crucial need for us to address anti-LGBT bullying in our schools because, sadly, this is literally a life or death issue,” said Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools.
Authorities don’t believe the killing was a hate crime, said Waterloo police spokesman Lt. Michael McNamee.
“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,” McNamee said.
Arguments escalated throughout Thursday and involved a vehicle being vandalized, McNamee said.
“It all culminated in that area early Friday morning,” he said.
Police say Andrews was at a friend’s house shortly before 1 a.m. Friday when people in a vehicle pulled up, and a fight ensued. Andrews was hit in the head multiple times and kicked in the face.
Andrews was captain of the Crusaders Drill Team, sponsored by Union Missionary Baptist Church. The Rev. Marvin Jenkins will officiate at Andrews’ funeral Saturday.
Jenkins said he must “seize this opportunity to say something that will help avoid this tragedy happening to some other young person.”