Waterloo Police Investigate Claims That Taunting Provoked Deadly Fight

By Jeff Reinitz, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO, Iowa – A brutal fight that claimed the life of a Waterloo teen started with taunting, witnesses said.

Police confirmed that 19-year-old Marcellus Richard Andrews was officially pronounced dead at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Relatives and acquaintances said he died after being removed from life support at an Iowa City hospital.

"It's just not fair," said friend Nakita Wright. "I don't wish that to happen to my worst enemy."

Officers and paramedics said they found Andrews unconscious with severe head injuries in the early morning hours Friday.

Andrews, who was slated to start studying interior design at Hawkeye Community College, spent part of Thursday practicing with members of the Crusaders, a drill team sponsored by Union Missionary Baptist Church. He led the step team for the group, which was days away from competing in March Against Darkness.

Night found him at Nakita Wright's home on Cottage Street.

She said the problems started at about 12:45 a.m. Friday when she and Tudia Simpson, her cousin, went for a walk down the street. Andrews opted to stay behind, waiting on the enclosed porch, she said.

The two women hadn't made it as far as Adams Street a block away when they heard yelling back at the house. They ran back and found a truck stopped in the street, and the occupants were taunting Andrews, calling him "faggot" and "Mercedes," a feminization of his first name, Simpson said.

The arguing and name calling continued, said Simpson, who admitted throwing the first punch, striking a girl.

"She kept saying it, and I hit her," Simpson said.

From there, the fight was on, with Nakita Wright and the others joining in, according to their account.

At some point during the scuffle, Nakita Wright felt her leg brush against something on the ground. She looked down and saw Andrews.

"I tried to help him up, and then this boy ran back and kicked him in his face," Nakita Wright said.

After the brawl ended, she tried helping Andrews to his feet. He appeared dazed. She grabbed one arm and coaxed him as she lifted. He pushed up with his other arm, but then gave up.

Nakita Wright dialed 911.

He was flown to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for treatment.

Word of his passing came as the Crusaders Drill Team took part in the March Against Darkness competition at Central Middle School, said Alexis Wright, a cousin of Nakita who works with the Crusaders.

In addition to being step team captain, Andrews had helped train team members, Alexis Wright said.

"He would practice with the little ones, making sure they get it," she said.

Andrews had been scheduled to lead the team's Saturday night performance and deliver the opening salute.

Instead, when the event started, organizers had a moment of silence for Andrews, who at that time was understood to be on life support. Later, during an intermission, officials broke the news he wasn't going to pull through over the public address system, Alexis Wright said.

"All the children were affected by it. When they announced, they were literally on the floor crying," she said.

It was a tragic end to a busy weekend for the team, which started the with a parade in Parkersburg and another Saturday event before the March Against Darkness, Alexis Wright said.

Andrews had studied at La James College and took part in Job Corps. He had bought his Hawkeye college textbooks earlier in the week.

Authorities continue to investigate the assault. No arrests have been made in the case.

EARLIER STORY

WATERLOO, Iowa --- A Waterloo teen who was hospitalized after being beaten early Friday morning has died, police said Sunday evening.

Police this evening confirmed the death of 19-year-old Marcellus Richard Andrews. Police said Andrews was officially declared deceased Sunday afternoon, but relatives and acquaintances said he died Saturday night after being removed from life support at an Iowa City hospital.

Word came as members of the Union Missionary Baptist Church's Crusaders Drill Team took part in the March Against Darkness competition at Central Middle School, said Alexis Wright, who works with the Crusaders.

Andrews was a captain of the Crusaders's step team and also helped train team members, Alexis Wright said.

"He would practice with the little ones, making sure they get it."

Andrews had been scheduled to lead the team's performance and deliver the opening salute Saturday.

Instead, when the event started, organizers had a moment of silence for Andrews, who at that time was understood to be on life support. Later, during an intermission, officials broke the news of his death over the public address system, Alexis Wright said.

"All the children were effected by it. When they announced, they were literally on the floor crying," she said.

It was a tragic end to a busy weekend for the team, which started the with a parade in Parkersburg and another Saturday event before the March Against Darkness, Alexis Wright said.

Andrews had studied at La James College, a cosmetology school, and was slated to start at the interior design program at Hawkeye Community College on Monday, friends said. He bought his textbooks earlier in the week.

Authorities continue to investigate the assault, which happened at about 12:45 a.m. Friday in the 200 block of Conger Street. No arrests have been made in the case.

Witnesses said Andrews was hanging out at a friend's home when a group of people in a vehicle pulled up and began taunting him. A fight ensued, and Andrews was punched, kicked and knocked down.

Police and paramedics called to the scene found Andrews with severe head trauma, and he was flown to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
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