Two Marines were arrested and jailed Saturday on misdemeanor battery charges after they allegedly beat up a gay man in Savannah, Georgia.
According to the Savannah Morning News, police responded to a call around 3:45 a.m. that an unconscious man was on the ground. At the scene, police found 26-year-old Kiren Daly motionless with friends performing first aid.
Police apprehended Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22, and Christopher Charles Stanzel, 23, running away from the scene. Both men are Marines and stationed at the nearby Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Cronauer and Stanzel told police they were being harassed by a gay man and wanted to get away from him. But witnesses painted a different picture, according to the report.
They told police one of the men grew angry because he thought Daly was winking at him and struck Daly in the back of the head with his fist, knocking him unconscious.
Daly said one of the men told him he demanded respect because he served in Iraq. And at least one hurled slurs at him as he tried to walk away.
“That’s the last thing I remember is walking away,” Daly said.
Cronauer and Stanzel were booked into Chatham County jail on battery charges, and later released to military police.
Witnesses and the victim believe the attack was a hate crime, but Georgia is one of five states that doesn’t have a hate crime law at the state level.