A black, gay high school senior was reportedly found tied up and shot to death in a wooded area near Varnado, Louisiana, on Jan. 12.
Now, an attorney for the family of 17-year-old Ja’Quarius Taylor says he believes the murder was a hate crime based on race and sexual orientation.
“The family has a legal team to help ensure a full, fair, and just investigation is happening,” the attorney told WWL Eyewitness News. “We hope the FBI will get involved because of the perceived conflicts of interest and family relations the local sheriff may have. We’re looking at this as a hate crime based on the race and sexual orientation of Ja’Quarius Taylor.”
Taylor’s mother reported him missing after she woke up last Sunday morning and he was not home, which she said was unusual. A short time later, a worker who was headed to check water levels at a nearby lake discovered Taylor’s body. Last week, a dive team searching for evidence in the lake reportedly made a “significant discovery.”
Ja’Quarius, known as “Jay D,” played drums in the band at Varnado High School and would have been among the first people in his family to attend college, according to his mother. His classmates staged an emotional candlelight vigil on Saturday, and he was remembered during the local MLK Day Parade.
The Human Rights Campaign identified Taylor as gay in its AM Equality newsletter Wednesday, and HRC President Alphonso David tweeted about the case:
Dylan Waguespack, public policy director at the True Colors Fund, also chimed in:
Watch an interview with Taylor’s mother here, and watch WWL’s latest report below.