FAMU police arrested a suspect in connection with an alleged band hazing incident that occurred last week. The incident resulted in a freshman band member being hospitalized.
William Tanelus, a 20-year-old former student from Miami, was arrested Friday and charged with aggravated battery. It is uncertain if Tanelus is a former or current band member. If convicted Tanelus could face a maximum of 15 years in prison. The victim, Marcus Parker, a trumpet player from Jacksonville, was released from the hospital Friday.
According to FAMU police chief and director of safety and security Calvin Ross, the incident happened on Thursday Nov. 8. Parker checked into Tallahassee Memorial Hospital on Sunday Nov. 11. Parker’s father notified the FAMU police department about the incident, Ross said.
Despite several attempts, The Famuan was unable to obtain a copy of the police report from the FAMU police department.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the police report stated freshman band members met at the band’s practice field and were taken to Campus Lodge Apartments, 2677 Old Bainbridge Road. Once at the apartment, they were beaten.
Parker told police he was struck 20 to 30 times and another freshman victim Darian Magee told police he was paddled multiple times with a “board-like paddle,” according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Ross said the majority of those being questioned are in the trumpet section of the band, but this does not exclude other band members.
There are possibly more victims and investigators are seeking other victims for questioning. Many of the victims seem to be freshmen, said Ross.
“It is difficult when you have a so called code of secrecy. It’s even more difficult if the code of secrecy extends to the victims. We are hoping that we’re able to get victims that will understand the seriousness of this. Particularly, as it has to do with the injuries that have already been afflicted upon one individual [Marcus Parker] and there may be others so we need them to come forward.”
According to Ross, it is not necessary to get information from “every possible victim” to make an arrest. “All we would need is to get information from just a few that would give us adequate information to make the charge.”
The FAMU police department is receiving cooperation from band members but the level of cooperation could not be disclosed, said Ross.
Ivery D. Luckey, a clarinet player in the Marching 100, claimed to be paddled at least 300 times as part of an initiation ceremony in 1998. Luckey filed a lawsuit last year against the Board of Regents.
In a similar case, an alleged hazing incident in August at Southern University resulted in their band being put on probation for the remainder of the semester. Allegedly, two upper-classmen hit a freshman band member on the back with drumsticks and made him do “excessive exercises” resulting in a knee injury.
Southern University band director Isaac Greggs learned of the incident and reported it. The two upper-classmen were arrested and face battery charges.
In 1990 a state law was passed prohibiting hazing and requiring universities to enforce the law and impose penalties. Possible university action may include suspension, expulsion or fines. FAMU has a “zero tolerance policy” on hazing.
Letters of suspension have been issued by Julian White, director of the Marching 100, from band activities to band members who have possible knowledge of the hazing incident.
“The University will continue the investigation until we find all of the parties responsible,” said FAMU spokesman Eddie Jackson.
If anyone has any information about this case call the FAMU police department tip-line at 1-800-501-5352. Tipsters can receive up to $500 for their information.