CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — At least 11 people have been indicted in connection to the death of a Virginia college student after an alleged “hazing incident” at a fraternity event in February, the Richmond Police Department confirmed to NewsNation Friday.
Eight people have been arrested and the others are being sought, police said. Police have not yet released details on their charges.
Adam Oakes, 19, was a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University when he attended a Delta Chi fraternity rush off-campus event.
Police responded to a report of a person down; upon arrival, officers found Oakes down and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be “ethanol toxicity,” a type of alcohol poisoning, and ruled it “an accident.”
In June, The Virginia Commonwealth University chapter of Delta Chi was permanently suspended, following an investigation.
The family of Adam Oakes sent the following statement to NewsNation:
We are grateful for some measure of justice these charges and arrests may produce, as well as the protection from hazing they may give young, impressionable college students. The past 7 months have been agonizing for our family. This is the first time these young men have been held accountable for their historically toxic and destructive traditions, manipulation of the VCU disciplinary systems, and for Adam’s death. Do not tell us these are just “boys”, Adam was just a boy. He had his whole life ahead of him. He will never have the same opportunities or future these young men will. He will never graduate from college, never get married, never have kids, and never have the chance to grow into the person HE was meant to be. They stole that from him. They stole that from us. There are so many things that can be learned from Adam’s senseless death and these arrests;
1. Stop Hazing! We don’t want this tragedy to ever happen again to young, vulnerable students and we don’t want another family to endure what we are experiencing.
2. If you engage in hazing, and your organization engages in hazing, you will be held accountable for your actions. And that can involve going to prison.
3. Be brave, if you see something say something. Stop hazing in its tracks. If you don’t, it may haunt you for the rest of your life.
4. If someone needs help, step up and call 911. Immediately. Save a life. If you don’t, again, it may haunt you for the rest of your life.
5. People aren’t always who they seem. “Brothers” may say they have your back and instead turn their back. People may pretend to care and leave you when it’s most important.
6. Make the most of each and every day because you never know when it’s your last.
7. Hug your loved ones and let them know you care. Time is precious. We would give anything to hug Adam one more time, see the smile on his face, or hear his laugh, but we can’t because of the actions these young men took that evening in February.
Thank you, Detective Gouldman and Deputy Commonwealth Attorney, Alison Martin, for your relentless effort, diligence, and perseverance on Adam’s case. We also thank Commonwealth’s Attorney, Colette Wallace McEachin, for her pursuit of justice in this heartbreaking case. Our entire family has faith in the judicial system and we appreciate the driving efforts for justice. To the young men charged, we hope you learn from your criminal acts and never, ever forget what you and Delta Chi did to our sweet boy, Adam Oakes.
This is a developing story; check back for updates.
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NewsNation affiliate WRIC contributed to this report.