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Charges upgraded to murder in South grad's beating death

POSTED: September 2, 2014 4:56 p.m.
 

STATESBORO — A bouncer accused of beating a Forsyth County teenager to death last week now faces a murder charge.

Grant James Spencer, 20, was initially arrested Aug. 28 on aggravated battery charges in the death of Michael Gatto, 18, who died at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah later that day.

Gatto was a recent South Forsyth graduate who was attending Georgia Southern University.

Gatto "received head injuries as a result of the altercation at Rude Rudy’s and was unresponsive upon officers' arrival," Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Statesboro police executed an arrest warrant for Spencer, who remains in the Bulloch County Jail without bond, for murder.

The new charge came "after completion of an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab. No further information is being released at this time," Turner said.

Bulloch County Coroner Jake Futch said he had not been informed of the autopsy results.

Spencer is a former wrestler at Johns Creek High School, according to media reports.

Gatto graduated in May from South, where he was a longtime member of the track and field team, according to the team’s Twitter feed, which shared news of his death.

A statement that appeared on Rude Rudy's Facebook page Aug. 28 claimed Spencer was off duty at the time of the incident. The Facebook statement no longer appears on the page.

Georgia Southern University President Brooks Keel issued a statement Aug. 29 saying that the "university family is deeply saddened" by the death of Gatto. Media reports indicated that Spencer also attended Georgia Southern.

 

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