Ten facing arrest over death of fraternity pledge
TEENAGER DIED AFTER NIGHT OF DRINKING
Ten people will be arrested on hazing charges in the death of a Louisiana State University fraternity pledge after a night of drinking, LSU officials said Wednesday.
One of the 10 suspects — Matthew Alexander Naquin, 19, of Boerne, Texas — also faces a negligent homicide charge in the death last month of 18year-old Maxwell Gruver, a freshman from Roswell, Georgia, LSU said in a statement.
Eight of the suspects are LSU students and were active members of the fraternity, according to university spokesman Ernie Ballard. He said all 10 are expected to be jailed Wednesday once they turn themselves in to LSU police. The hazing charges against all 10 suspects, whose ages range from 18 to 21, are misdemeanours.
“The LSU Police Department has communicated with the Gruver family throughout the investigation process, and the university has also been in touch with them regarding today’s arrests,” LSU’s statement says.
Gruver died at a Baton Rouge hospital on Sept. 14 after Phi Delta Theta members found him lying on a couch at the fraternity house and couldn’t tell if he was breathing, police said.
A coroner said hospital tests found a “highly elevated” blood-alcohol level in Gruver’s body.
Witnesses told police that the fraternity’s pledges were forced to drink to excess on the night before Gruver’s death, during a game or initiation ritual called “Bible Study” that required pledges to drink if they incorrectly answered questions about the fraternity.
A witness told police that Gruver was “highly intoxicated” when fraternity members laid him on a couch and left the house sometime early on Sept. 14. Around 11 a.m., members found Gruver still on the couch with a weak pulse, police said. Two people drove him to a hospital, where he died later that day.
The fraternity’s national office said it closed the chapter after Gruver’s death.
The nine suspects facing only hazing charges are Zachary Castillo, of Gretna; Sean Paul Gott, of Lafayette; Sean Pennison, Mandeville; Hudson Kirkpatrick, Baton Rouge; Elliott Eaton, of New Orleans; Patrick Forde, of Westwood, Massachusetts; Nicholas Tavlli, of Cypress, Texas; Zachary Hall, of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Ryan Isto, who is from Canada. Gott and Forde aren’t enrolled at LSU, according to Ballard.
Several pledges told police they received a group text message stating there would be ‘Bible Study’ at the house” at 10 p.m. on Sept. 13. Investigators seized a cellphone belonging to the fraternity member who sent the group text message about the “Bible Study” session.
Police executed search warrants at the fraternity house and at Gruver’s dorm room. Among the items seized from the fraternity house were a duffel bag filled with beer cans, bottles of liquor, a glass smoking pipe, a “pledge test,” cleaning supplies and two strands of white knotted rope, according to a search warrant return.
Police also found devices that may have captured video footage inside the fraternity house “during the times of the events,” a police affidavit says.
“Investigators also learned that there were several text messages sent about (Gruver’s) condition,” the affidavit said.