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IOWA CITY, Iowa – A 19-year-old critically injured by a group of attackers who screamed anti-gay slurs during a vicious beating died Sunday when he was taken off a life-support system, family and friends say.
Marcellus Richard Andrews was sitting in an enclosed front porch at a friend’s house in Waterloo, Iowa, when a truck pulled up and the male and female occupants began shouting homophobic slurs at him, witnesses told police.
Two female friends of Andrews, who were walking down the street, rushed back to the house and tried to intervene. The slurs and taunting escalated into a fight involving the boys and girls.
Andrews was overwhelmed by his attackers and fell. Witnesses said one of the assailants began stomping the helpless teenager in the head.
News reports say that Andrews was unconscious by the time paramedics arrived, and he was airlifted to Iowa City to a trauma hospital, where he later died.
Andrews was enrolled to attend community college in the fall, where he had planned to study interior design. He was a member of the Crusaders, a drill team sponsored by Union Missionary Baptist Church, and he led the step team that was preparing to compete in the March Against Darkness.
So far, no arrests have been made in the case. Waterloo police have not determined that this was a hate crime.
Andrews’ death shocked officials with One Iowa and Iowa Safe Schools.
“We are deeply saddened by the brutal and tragic death of Marcellus. This is just not something that happens in Iowa and we are appalled at this level of extreme violence and intolerance,” said Troy Price, One Iowa executive director.
“Tragedies like this underscore the incredible need to talk about issues affecting gay and lesbian Iowans and to fight for equality in our communities. When community, state, and national leaders ridicule and deride gay and lesbians, it creates a hurtful environment and gives license to this sort of attack. Most importantly, it harms lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) young people by sending the message that they are not equal. We can and must do better, because we can never, ever allow an attack like this to take place in Iowa again,” Price said.
Nate Monson, Iowa Safe Schools executive director, was also stunned by the death.
“Our prayers and thoughts go to Marcellus’ family, friends, and the Waterloo community. No one deserves this. Enough youth have hurt each other and themselves over differences, bullying, harassment, and taunting,” Monson said.
“Andrews’ tragic death points the crucial need for us to address anti-LGBT bullying in our schools because, sadly, this is literally a life or death
issue. We must ensure that LGBT children feel safe and supported in their school and community. Iowa Safe Schools is committed to creating a more safe and supportive state for all Iowa kids,” Monson said.
One Iowa and Iowa Safe Schools are committed to working together with allies across the state and nation to make schools and communities safer for LGBT children.