Police to arrest 10 people in LSU fraternity pledge's death

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 11:08AM
Ten people will be arrested on hazing charges in the death of a LSU fraternity pledge after a night of drinking, LSU officials said.


BATON ROUGE, Louisiana - 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, also faces a negligent homicide charge in the death last month of 18-year-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 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.

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.

Police also obtained a warrant to examine Gruver's phone so they could see who he called or texted before his death.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards asked leaders of the state's higher-education system to review their campus policies on hazing, alcohol and drugs following Gruver's death.

"One loss of life to hazing or drug and alcohol abuse is too many, and I know that you share my very serious concerns," Edwards wrote in a letter dated Sept. 21, asking them to report their findings and recommendations to his office by Oct. 29.

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