Police in Muskegon Heights, Michigan are searching for 18-year-old Trevon Lee Godbolt (aka. Trevon Lee Taylor) as the lead suspect in a case involving a gay 17-year-old who was beaten, stripped naked and then chased home. Police believe that Godbolt/Taylor was involved in the attack, an assault that was recorded on a phone, with the resulting gay bashing video later uploaded to Facebook.
According to Police Chief Joseph E. Thomas Jr., the assault happened on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 4. Chief Thomas says that the 17-year-old victim was lured to the area of Edgewood Elementary School and then attacked.
Police believe that Godbolt/Taylor is only one of several attackers. They say he is overheard in the gay bashing video, repeatedly asking, “Why you on this gay shit?” Meanwhile, the victim gets called slurs while being beaten. The victim begs his attackers to stop several times.
At the end of the video, the attackers force the 17-year-old to strip naked before he runs off. Women’s voices in the video can be heard laughing and yelling “Catch him!” Authorities suspect that Godbolt/Taylor, another man and two women helped carry out the attack.
At 8:30 p.m. later that evening, police received a call about a naked man walking in front of a church. When police responded, they discovered that it was the beaten teenager making his way back to his aunt’s house. The teen was reportedly “incoherent” and was immediately taken to the hospital for treatment.
“They beat him up because he’s gay,” Chief Thomas said. “We’re going to be investigating this fully. All participants are going to have a hard time. We’re not going to let this go. We’re going to hunt him down.”
Prosecutors say that they could charge Godbolt/Taylor with unarmed robbery and unlawful imprisonment, charges that have higher imprisonment penalties than an assault charge. They have also contacted the FBI for possible federal charges.
Although Michigan reportedly has no hate crime statutes enhancing penalties for attacks targeting LGBTQ people, prosecutors sometimes avoid pursuing hate crime charges because it raises the burden of proof on investigators.
Anyone with information on Godbolt/Taylor is encouraged to call the Silent Observer tip line at (231) 72-CRIME or to leave a comment at www.silentobservermuskegon.com. Police are offering $500 for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
Update: Godbolt/Taylor has been arrested thanks to someone’s tip.
Featured image by hjalmeida via iStock