PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) — Police arrested three men and sought a fourth Tuesday after two Virginia State University freshmen were swept away while trying to cross a swift, rain-swollen river as part of an initiation rite.
The body of one freshman, identified as Marvell Edmonson, 19, of Portsmouth, was recovered Monday. The search continued Tuesday for the second, Jauwan M. Holmes, 19, of Newport News.
The four suspects are connected to an organization known as “Men of Honor” that conducted an initiation Saturday that required seven male VSU students to walk through the rushing rapids of the Appomattox River, police said. While some were pulled to safety, two were swept away.
Chesterfield County police identified the three in custody as James A. Mackey Sr., 35, of suburban Richmond; Eriq K. Benson, 19, of Quinton; and Cory D. Baytop, 26, of Newport News. Each has been charged with five counts of hazing. Police were seeking Charles E. Zollicoffer II, 29. An address was not provided.
Benson and Baytop are VSU students. Benson’s attorney did not immediately return a telephone message. It was not clear if the other suspects had attorneys.
Police Lt. Randy Horowitz described Men of Honor as a social club or “group whose mission is to build the character of young men.” He said he was not familiar with the organization beyond that, and said it was not sanctioned by VSU.