A Man Was Charged For Reportedly Killing A 10-Year-Old Boy After He Came Out As Gay

A 10-year-old boy died in California last week, and now authorities are investigating if homophobia played a role.

The boy, Anthony Avalos, reportedly came out as gay during the weeks prior to his death, the Los Angeles Times reports. Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, told the Los Angeles Times that Avalos “said he liked boys,” but did not offer any additional details about who the boy came out to or when he revealed this information.

According to USA Today, Avalos was found unresponsive after his mom called 911 saying he had “fallen.”

Kareem Leiva, Anthony’s mother’s boyfriend, has been arrested and charged with murder, according to NBC News. The boy’s uncle told NBC news that Leiva was involved in a violent gang and has a history of being homophobic. He said he remembers Leiva making comments about being “uncomfortable” aroung gay men several times. However, USA Today reports that the investigation has not revealed homophobia as a motive at this point.

When the boy was found in his home, the Los Angeles Times reports, he was severely injured and had cigarette burns on his body. With his body showing signs of abuse, according to NBC News, his death is considered suspicious.

NBC News also reports that the Department of Children and Family Services responded to a number of complaints of abuse and neglect. Though Avalos was removed from the home at one point, he was eventually sent back. One of his aunts told NBC News she was upset that the boy was able to return to his mom’s home after being removed — despite reports and phone calls, no one did anything, she said.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the boy’s mother and her boyfriend were the subject of a number of phone calls alleging abuse, with reports saying that the boy or his siblings were sexually abused, beaten, not provided with food and more.