Carrboro police haven’t ruled out hazing in the death of a UNC freshman last October, according to an update from the department.
David Shannon, a UNC freshman and a pledge in the Chi Phi fraternity, died after falling 40 feet from machinery at Carrboro’s Ready Mixed Concrete Plant.
Police reached out to members of the fraternity and the UNC community but haven’t received any information in return, Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton said in a recent email update to town staff.
What little information police did receive couldn’t be confirmed, he said.
“You also inquired what charges would be appropriate in this case if we got to that point. Depending on what information is developed, we may be able to charge N.C. General Statute 14-35 Hazing which is a class 2 misdemeanor,” Horton said in the email. “Dependent on other developments, we may have additional charges if appropriate.”
N.C. General Statute 14-35 defines hazing as “to subject another student to physical injury as part of an initiation, or as a prerequisite to membership, into any organized school group, including any society, athletic team, fraternity or sorority, or other similar group.”
Ross Masters, president of the Chi Phi fraternity, said Shannon was not being hazed by the Chi Phi fraternity the night he died. Masters said the fraternity does not haze its pledges.
Masters said police have not interviewed him as part of the investigation, and the fraternity had not considered it could be implicated.
“We were never even worried about the legal aspects,” Masters said. “Our hearts are just broken for David.”
Alcohol might have been a factor in Shannon’s death, according to a statement from Carrboro police last year.
Horton said hazing is just one possibility that could come out of the department’s investigation.
“I’m not going to say it is (hazing),” Horton said in an interview Tuesday. “That’s one of the things that could come out of the investigation.”
Police did not initially suspect hazing during the early stages of the investigation.
“It is not the primary focus, and there is no evidence at this time to suggest that hazing was a factor in Mr. Shannon’s death,” Capt. Chris Atack, then a lieutenant, said in a statement in October.
Police are still waiting on the official results from an autopsy.
In his update to town staff, Horton said the department plans to ask Crime Stoppers to increase a reward for information about the case.
“It is important to us that we do our best to provide closure to the Shannon family.”
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