BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Southern University has suspended the seven students arrested earlier this week for their alleged involvement in an off-campus incident that left two SU Marching Band members seriously injured.
All seven of the Southern University band members charged in the incident had bonded out of the parish prison by Thursday.
The men are charged with aggravated battery and ritualistic acts as part of an alleged unofficial band fraternity event. Investigators say the seven beat three younger band members with 2x4 boards.
Three members of the Southern University band were beaten with a 2x4 wooden board as part of initiation into the band's French horn section, a probable cause report says. Two of the victims remain hospitalized in serious condition.
Six band members were arrested Tuesday (Dec. 2) and a seventh suspect turned himself in to authorities Wednesday (Dec. 3). 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 felonies. The pair 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 23-year-old Jeremy Dixon of Natchez, Mississippi; 21-year-old Joseph Lee Webb of Columbus, Georgia; 22-year-old Lagarian Bridgewater of Baton Rouge; and 20-year-old Aubrey Harris, Jr. of Canton, Mississippi. Wednesday morning, 20-year-old Clifton Taylor of Baton Rouge turned himself in. He faces the same charges as the other suspects.
The probable cause report states that according to a witness, as part of the initiation ritual, "The three subjects were blindfolded and told to remove their shirts." The report also states, "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 2x4. One victim elected to stop the ritual after he had been struck over 50 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."
According to the report, the other two victims "did not ask to have the ritual halted, and later sought medical treatment at a hospital for their injuries." 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 states.
The university released another statement Tuesday about the incident:
"We are still cooperating with law enforcement authorities in their investigation of this matter. Today's arrests resulted from the ongoing investigation. We have a zero tolerance for hazing at Southern University and we will ensure that violators of our policy prohibiting hazing are sanctioned and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
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.