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Students drown in hazing death

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/25/2013, 1:09 p.m.
Another deadly hazing incident has popped up at yet another historically Black college, this time...
Students drown in hazing death

Another deadly hazing incident has popped up at yet another historically Black college, this time at Virginia State University (VSU) where two male, freshmen drowned in a river during hazing ritual.

Four men have been charged, each with five counts hazing, according to reports from Virginia. James A. Mackey, Sr., Eriq K. Benson, and Cory D. Baytop were arrested Monday for the deaths of Marvell Edmondson and Jauwan Holmes of Williamsburg. Police are looking for a fourth suspect, Charles E. Zollicoffer.

Police allege that Edmondson and Holmes were participating in pledging ritual for the organization "Men of Honor," which is stationed at but not affiliated with (VSU). The two students along with others were told to jump into the Appomattox River. Edmondson body was found in the river this week while Holmes body remains missing.

Other students participating in the ritual who survived told local media outlets that they jumped into the river and the current began to pulling them downstream.

In a statement VSU said that no sanctioned student organizations were involved in the incident and expressed their condolences.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of our students," the university said.

"We ask the VSU community to come together during this time and to offer one another support and strength. As always, the safety of our students is of paramount concern. We are confident that no sanctioned VSU student organizations were involved in this tragic incident."

School officials added that counseling was available for students. A vigil for the students was held on the campus on Sunday along with another on on Wednesday in Edmondson's hometown of Portsmouth, VA at his high school.