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LSU Police Issue Arrest Warrants For 10 Students Over Fraternity Pledge's Death

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Louisiana State University police have issued arrest warrants for 10 students who belonged to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity after an investigation showed that freshman pledge Maxwell Gruver had died last month after a night of playing a drinking game. The charges range from hazing to homicide.

University spokesman Ernie Ballard told NPR in an email that the students turned themselves in to LSU police on Wednesday.

Last week, police investigators said they found Gruver had died after playing a game that fraternity members called Bible Study, in which pledges are quizzed about the fraternity and are ordered to drink if they give the wrong answers.

All 10 students have been charged with hazing. One of them, Matthew Alexander Naquin, is also facing a charge of negligent homicide.

The other nine students are: Zachary Castillo, Elliott Eaton, Patrick Forde, Sean Paul Gott, Zachary Hall, Ryan Isto, Hudson Kirkpatrick, Sean Pennison and Nicholas Taulli.

In an earlier report about the Gruver inquiry, student newspaper The Daily Reveille relayed a police account of events on the night of Sept. 13, when Gruver allegedly played the game.

Witnesses said they "noticed Gruver was highly intoxicated at some point after midnight and laid him on the couch before leaving for the night," according to the Reveille. After Gruver was found to be still on the couch the next morning, he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Some of the findings from Gruver's autopsy were released Wednesday; the Reveille reports that East Baton Rouge Coroner William "Beau" Clark "confirmed Gruver's death was accidental, and the result of acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration. Clark said Gruver's alcohol level was .495 at the time of his death."

In announcing Wednesday's arrest warrants, LSU issued a statement saying, "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 President F. King Alexander said in a statement, "Today's arrests underscore that the ramifications of hazing can be devastating. Maxwell Gruver's family will mourn his loss for the rest of their lives, and several other students are now facing serious consequences — all due to a series of poor decisions."

The national Phi Delta Theta organization removed the charter of the LSU chapter on Sept. 18, after its inquiry into Gruver's death "uncovered enough information to conclude that some chapter members were in violation of established risk management policies, including our Alcohol Free Housing policy."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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