Two marines arrested Saturday in
Savanna, Georgia on charges they battered a gay man may also face
federal charges, the Savanna Morning News reported.
The FBI has reportedly launched a
preliminary investigation into whether federal charges as a hate
crime should be pursued in the case.
The men, both stationed at Marine Corps
Air Station in Beaufort, S.C., were arrested by Savanna police about
4AM Saturday morning and booked on a misdemeanor charge of battery.
Their bond was set at $1,850. The men were later released to Marine
police, who are also considering charges.
Responding to a call, police found
26-year-old Kieran Daly laying motionless on the ground as friends
performed first aid. Witnesses said Daly was attacked because he is
Moments earlier, police had witnessed
two men matching the description of the attackers running on Congress
Lane. According to a police report, officers caught up with Keil
Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23, after they
had climbed into a fenced-off parking lot off Congress Lane.
Cronauer told police they “were being harassed by a white
homosexual male earlier in the evening and just wanted to get away
and meet their friend on Bay St.” But Stanzel said “he was going
to meet a friend on River St.”
Witnesses told police that one of the
men grew angry because he thought Daly was winking at him. He struck
Daly in the back of the head with his fist, knocking him unconscious.
Daly, who was released from the hospital Sunday, was diagnosed with
bruises to the brain and suffered seizures from the attack. Doctors
have advised Daly, a truck driver, not to return to work.
Daly claims his attacker yelled
anti-gay slurs at him as he tried to walk away from an argument with
Cronauer over whether Daly was coming on to the marine.
Local gay activists are planning to
hold a rally on Sunday at Johnson Square in Savannah near where Daly
was struck. Activists say the crime warrants more than misdemeanor
“This is just the most recent example
of violence that occurs on our streets as a result of people being
just who they are,” Kevin Clark, a board member of Georgia Equality
who directs its Savannah chapter. “It is just laughable that an
attack as brutal as this could be classified as a misdemeanor. It is
a felony. It is absurd that professional people could label this
attack as a misdemeanor. That is the root of my deepest anger.”