The FBI is investigating whether or not a Marshall University running back should be charged with a hate crime after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting two gay men, BuzzFeed reports.
Huntington, W.Va., Police Chief Joseph Ciccarelli told BuzzFeed that MU student Steward Butler turned himself in on Wednesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest in the case. Butler was charged with two counts of battery, the site notes.
Butler has since been dismissed from the school’s team, and the school has issued a statement condemning the alleged assault: “The entire university community is shocked and disappointed to learn the details surrounding the alleged actions,” interim President Gary White said in the release. “The type of violent, bigoted behavior reported to have been perpetrated by this student is not tolerated at Marshall University. Period. This is an extremely serious matter.”
The 23-year-old Floridian allegedly launched his attack after seeing two men kiss at a downtown intersection April 5. Butler allegedly saw the kiss before getting out of a vehicle that had been passing and shouting anti-gay slurs at the men, the Herald-Dispatch notes.
“He called us f—gots, queers, you name it,” one of the men, 20-year-old Casey Williams, told BuzzFeed. “We were trying to ignore him, but he jumped out of the car and came running up to us.”
Two other men soon exited Butler’s vehicle and started approaching the couple.
“You can imagine, two people against three, so what do you do?” the second victim, Zack Johnson, 21, said of the attack. Johnson said he started taking photos and recording video when he realized that things could go awry. Butler kept on running toward the two men as they attempted to back away.
At that point, Williams said, Butler hit Johnson across the ear and forehead area with a closed fist before also punching Williams himself across the cheek.
Butler and his companions then left the scene.
“It was frightening, of course,” Williams said. “What was going to happen? We were downtown in the city in the middle of the night. People are yelling that we’re gay. If they will hit you for being gay, are they also going to stab you for being gay?”
The couple returned to their hotel before calling the police. Williams thinks the attack was “definitely a hate crime.”
Butler has since been released on a $10,000 personal-recognizance bond, the Herald-Dispatch notes.