Police in Spain said they have arrested three men for the brutal beating death of a gay man on July 3 that sparked widespread protests across the country.
Samuel Luiz, 24, a nursing assistant, was beaten to death by a group of 13 men outside a nightclub in A Coruña. Friends told El Mundo the assault came after a misunderstanding between Luiz and one of his alleged attackers. In a statement, police said they had arrested three suspects for murder, but that the investigation remains open and that further arrests are possible.
“3 young people between 20 and 25 years old, residents of A Coruña, arrested as alleged perpetrators of the violent attack that ended the life of Samuel Luiz,” Spain’s National Police said in a statement posted to Twitter.
A friend named Lina (who was with Luiz when he was murdered) told El Mundo the two were outside sharing a cigarette and a video call with Vanesa, a mutual friend, when a young man and a woman passed by. Lina said the man thought Luiz was recording the couple despite explanations to the contrary.
“Either stop recording or I'll kill you, faggot,” Lina recalls the man uttering moments before punching and assaulting him.
“The video was blocked, but the audio kept playing and I did not know what exactly was happening,” Vanesa told El Mundo. “I only heard the blows and Lina shouting: ‘leave him, he's my friend, please leave him!’”
Lina said the initial assault only stopped after intervention/help from an unidentified young man.
The man and girl left, but he returned not long after with 12 other men. “I saw in the distance that a crowd of people were moving at high speed and I ran towards it. I heard someone yell ‘you fucking fag!’” Lina recalled. “When I arrived I found Samuel on the ground unconscious, they were gone, they had left him lying there and had run away.”
Luiz was rushed to a local hospital where he died a short time later.
Spain erupted in mass demonstrations following news of Luiz’s savage murder. Thousands of people gathered in A Coruña, and there were also demonstrations in cities across the country including Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón, Valencia, and others.
“We are here for Samuel, not just for him, but for everyone who has suffered or could suffer homophobic assaults,” Diego Rubia, a demonstrator in A Coruña, told El País.
Riot units from the National Police were called to Madrid, and demonstrators sometimes clashed with police attempting to clear the streets.
While the investigation remains open looking for the additional attackers, Lina reached out to the man who stopped the initial beating.
“I have not seen him again and I would like you to know that all of Samu's friends are enormously grateful for his brave gesture,” Lina said.