DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — Nearly two dozen fraternity members at Northern Illinois University have been charged with hazing-related counts after a freshman was found dead at their fraternity house following a night of drinking.
DeKalb police and prosecutors issued arrest warrants Monday for 22 members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in DeKalb. Five members are charged with felony hazing, while the other 17 members are facing misdemeanor hazing charges.
The warrants were filed after David Bogenberger, 19, was found unresponsive at the fraternity house early on Nov. 2. The DeKalb County Coroner's Office said toxicology results found his blood alcohol content was about five times the legal limit for driving.
The coroner ruled Bogenberger's cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia, with alcohol intoxication as a contributing cause.
The DeKalb Police Department said its investigation found the fraternity hosted an unsanctioned event on Nov. 1 that wasn't registered with the university or the fraternity's national chapter.
"The event that night involved the pledges rotating between several rooms in the fraternity house, being asked a series of questions, and then being provided cups of vodka and other liquor to drink," police said in a statement. "This resulted in the pledges drinking a large quantity of alcohol in about a two-hour time period."
Police said several other pledges reported getting sick and passing out due to excessive alcohol consumption.
The international fraternity suspended the local Eta Nu chapter and said it would cooperate with the pursuit of anyone who broke the law.
In a statement from its Memphis, Tenn., headquarters, the fraternity sought to distance itself from alcohol use and hazing that might have happened at its local chapter. It said it has "strict standards with respect to alcohol and hazing."
"It is these local activities which stray from the fraternity's mission and values," Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Vice President Justin Buck said.
In addition to the charges, NIU said 31 students are accused of violating the school's code of conduct. Those students could face penalties ranging from reprimand to expulsion.
Bogenberger's family said in a statement that they appreciate law enforcement professionals who investigated his death and "seek accountability for a horrible event."
"We have no desire for revenge," the family said. "Rather, we hope that some significant change will come from David's death. Alcohol poisoning claims far too many young, healthy lives.
"We must realize that young people can and do die in hazing rituals. Alcohol-involved hazing and initiation must end."