Police are pulling out all stops to find the people who beat a teen and stripped him naked because he is gay and then posted a video of the assault on Facebook.
The "hate crime" occurred the evening of Saturday, Nov. 4, in the city of Muskegon Heights, said Police Chief Joseph E. Thomas Jr.
"They beat him up because he's gay," Thomas said.
Through analysis of the video, Thomas has identified a suspect and is asking the public's help in locating him.
The 18-year-old suspect is Trevon Lee Godbolt, who also is known as Trevon Lee Taylor, Thomas said. His last known address was in the city of Muskegon. There is a $500 reward for information leading to his arrest.
The disturbing video shows the 17-year-old being beaten while at least one other person is using a phone to video record. The victim asks his attacker to "please stop," as the suspect identified as Godbolt repeatedly asks "Why you on this gay s---?" The victim is repeatedly called derogatory terms as he is beaten.
At the end he is forced to strip naked and is allowed to run off. Women can be heard laughing and yelling "catch him."
Thomas said he believes in addition to Godbolt, there was another man and two women involved.
"We're going to be investigating this fully," Thomas said. "All participants are going to have a hard time."
The victim was lured to the area of Edgewood School where he was assaulted, he said.
The prosecutor's office has authorized two counts against Godbolt: unarmed robbery and unlawful imprisonment. They carry harsher penalties - up to 15 years -- than assault, Thomas said.
The prosecutor's office also reviewed an ethnic intimidation charge or some other hate crime, but the state does not have a criminal statute covering assaults based on sexual orientation, according to a press release from Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson's office.
Thomas said he had contacted the FBI, which has expressed an interest in pursuing the case federally.
"We're not going to let this go. We're going to hunt him down," Thomas said of Godbolt.
Thomas said he received a phone call at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 from a citizen saying a naked man was in front of a church at Summit Avenue and Howden Street. A responding officer found the teen walking into a home in the area, he said.
"He was going into his aunt's house and he was in the nude," Thomas said. "He was naked."
The victim was incoherent and taken to the hospital for treatment, the chief said.
The following morning, Nov. 5, the chief was sent a copy of the video that was posted on Facebook.
"We join the community of Muskegon County in expressing our outrage over this senseless act of violence," the press release from the prosecutor's office states. "We will work to protect this particular victim and any other victim that is targeted because of his or her sexual identity or orientation."