Eight people have been arrested in connection with the alleged hazing death of Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Adam Oakes, police said.
The victim, who was only 19, was found dead after a 26 February fraternity party. The medical examiner found in a May report that the cause of death was alcohol poisoning, and witness accounts suggest the freshman was encouraged to drink the equivalent of 40 shots of liquor.
Three additional people have been indicted and are expected to turn themselves in shortly.
Mr Oakes was pledging Delta Chi at VCU – about a two-hour drive south of Washington DC. The fraternity was expelled from the campus in June.
“The alleged actions of these individuals are an affront to the values of Delta Chi,” the fraternity’s international headquarters said after the Friday arrests. “Our policies are clear as it relates to the expected conduct of members including that no member shall engage in or condone acts of hazing,” the fraternity stated. “Any individual found responsible should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The VCU freshman hailed from Sterling, Virginia – about a half-hour drive from campus. He’d gone to high school at Potomac Falls with his VCU roommate, Alec Cardullo-Munoz, who told local media that the aspiring fraternity member had been thrilled to receive a bid from Delta Chi.
“He just wanted to feel accepted and be with these guys,” his roommate said.
Those arrested were Benjamin J Corado, 19; Quinn A Kuby, 22; Riley K. McDaniel, 21; Alessandro Medina-Villanueva, 21; Jason B Mulgrew, 21; Christian G Rohrbach, 22; Colin G Tran, 20; and Enayat W Sheikhzad, 22.
Charges range from unlawful hazing of a student to the purchase and provision of alcohol to a minor.
VCU ordered both an internal and external review follow the freshman’s tragic death. Dean of Students Reuban Rodriguez earlier this month announced a hold on fraternity and sorority recruitment.
Mr Oakes’ death was the latest in a spate of fatal hazing incidents across the United States that have sparked increased awareness and broader crackdowns on Greek life on campus.
His family published an obituary in March which detailed how the freshman - an only child - “was a beloved son, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend. He will be remembered for his warm disposition, kindness, sweet smile, giant bear hugs, and loving heart. All who knew him loved him and he loved them. Adam’s life was cut short, but we will keep his memory alive.”