Virginia State University Students Charged In Hazing Deaths

From left to right: Cory D. Baytop, 26, of Newport News.; Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton; and James A. Mackey Sr., 35, of suburban Richmond;

Four men have been charged with hazing following the drowning of at least one Virginia State University student, who was swept to his death as he attempted to cross the Appomattox River as part of an initiation rite, police said on Tuesday.

A second student remained missing on Tuesday, three days after seven male students were pulled down the river by the current as they tried to cross on April 20 as part of their initiation into a group known as “Men of Honor.”

Referring to themselves as  “social group”, “Men of Honor” was not a sanctioned club at the university, although the school was aware of the group. Spokesman Thomas Reed said the group had inquired about a year ago about establishing itself at the school, but never filled out any paperwork.

On Sunday, the university went into a lockdown and established a curfew following a vigil for the missing students. The curfew was lifted the next morning.

The four men charged with hazing were linked to the “Men of Honor” group, police said. They include James A. Mackey, 35 of Midlothian; freshman Cory D. Baytop, 26 of Newport News; and freshman Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton.

Police said Charles E Zollicoffer, 29, had also been charged but was not yet in custody.

Virginia State University President Keith T. Miller said the school was grieving after the body of Edmonson was recovered.

“We trust this development provides a sense of relief to Marvell’s family and pray for both of our students’ families,” he said.


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