A gay US Navy sailor who was found dead had been harassed by another person, his family said this week.
Seaman August Provost, 29, of Houston, was found dead early on Tuesday morning at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. He joined the Navy in March 2008.
A suspect is currently being held in connection with his death but no information has been released regarding a motive.
Gay activists have suggested he was killed in a homophobic attack. Ben Gomez, head of the San Diego chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights, cited unnamed sources suggesting Provost had died during an argument with another sailor over his sexuality.
Provost’s family told the San Diego Herald-Tribune he had been openly about his sexuality with those he trusted but mostly kept his private life to himself.
His sister Akalia said he had been harassed by someone else and his family had urged him to report it to a supervisor.
However, it has been noted that the sailor may have been unable to report the bullying if it was motivated by homophobia, as the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ rule prohibits openly gay personnel from serving in the US military.
It has also been reported that Provost’s partner Kaether Cordero found out about his death from a journalist.
Nicole Murray-Ramirez, chairman of San Diego’s Human Rights Commission, has called for an inquiry into whether Provost was killed because of his sexual orientation.
He said: “We respect the military, but we want to ensure that there is full disclosure, to see if this was a hate crime. A member of our community has been killed.”
A post-mortem examination has been performed but authorities are awaiting the outcome of toxicology reports to determine how the sailor died.