California police have identified suspects in the beating death of Marine Sgt. Thomas A. Elliott of Horseheads, but the lead investigator said Thursday that an arrest is not imminent.
Det. Kurt Cartie of the San Diego Sheriff's Department's Encinitas Station said "more than one suspect" is being sought as the investigation into the Feb. 27 incident continues.
Nearly four weeks after the incident in which Sgt. Elliott was beaten, police have not been able to find any witnesses other than people who were involved, Cartie said.
He said the trouble started when two groups left a bar at Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a community within Encinitas, at closing time.
He said the groups were walking across a parking lot to their vehicles when an argument developed and escalated into a fight. Sgt. Elliott and other Marines were in one group; those in the other group were civilians, Cartie said.
"More than eight" people were involved, he said.
Sgt. Elliott was punched and "the punch may have rendered him unconscious," Cartie said. He said the young Marine fell and struck his head on the pavement.
"His companions thought he was knocked out and drove him home" when the fight broke up, Cartie said.
Then they called 911, he said. When paramedics arrived, they called in an air ambulance that flew Sgt. Elliott to Palomar Hospital in nearby Escondido.
Cartie said Sgt. Elliott never regained consciousness and died March 9.