Three members of the Southern University band were beaten with a 2×4 wooden board as part of initiation into the band’s french horn section, a probable cause report says.
Two of the victims remained hospitalized in serious condition Tuesday.
Six band members were arrested Tuesday and deputies were looking for a seventh suspect.
Tuesday morning, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested Harvey Harrison and Carlos-Andres Carter, both 19 years old. They are each charged with aggravated battery and ritualistic acts. Both charges are felonies. Both men denied any knowledge of the incident, investigators said.
Tuesday afternoon, four additional suspects were arrested and also charged with Aggravated Second-degree Battery and Ritualistic Acts. The suspects include Jeremy Dixon, age unavailable, of Natchez, Mississippi, Joseph Lee Webb, age 21, of Columbus Georgia, Lagarian Bridgewater, age 22, of Baton Rouge, and Aubrey Harris, age 20, of Canton, Mississippi.
According to a witness, as part of the initiation ritual, “the three subjects were blindfolded and told to remove their shirts,” the probable cause reports says. “They then had water splashed on them as senior members of the organization struck them numerous times with open hands. The three victims were then told to bend over at the waist, and the senior members began striking them numerous times with a large wooden board, commonly referred to as a 2 x 4. One victim elected to stop the ritual after he had been struck over fifty times with the board. In a statement to investigators, he identified seven members of the French Horn section of the band who were present at the home and participated in the ritual,” the report says.
The report says the other two victims “did not ask to have the ritual halted, and later sought medical treatment at a hospital for their injuries.”
The report says the incident happened at a home on McClure Road in East Baton Rouge Parish as part of a hazing ritual to be “initiated into an unofficial fraternity known as ‘Mellow Phi Fellow’ for the French Horn section of the band, the probable cause report says.
“We have interviewed a witness, and have several suspects to interview today,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kellie Engels said Tuesday morning.
The band took part in Saturday’s Bayou Classic football game in New Orleans, which featured Southern University versus Grambling State.
Sources say hazing is nothing new within the Southern University band, but it depends on your definition of hazing. Our source within the band says most often, hazing usually hovers around paddling, slapping, or neckin,’ which is a stiff slap to the back of the head. It is in the form of older students picking on younger students, so they may earn their letters.
Sources say the two students in the hospital are both freshmen and from out of state.
The university would not release specific details of the incident and issued only a brief statement late Monday afternoon. In a two-line statement, the university wrote:
“We have received information that two members of the Southern University Marching Band were injured in an off-campus incident that is under investigation. ”Our thoughts and prayers are with these families and for the speedy recovery of our students.”
As a member of a fraternity myself, I know what it feels like to go through the hazing process, but I never had to endure anything anywhere near this. Obviously, I can't discuss what I went through, but I can say that the closest that came to this was just talk. I can't belive they actually did this, though.