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Carrboro’s police chief indicated on Tuesday that investigators trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding the death last year of a UNC student had encountered difficulties obtaining new information, but criminal charges still could result.
In an email to Carrboro’s town manager, Chief Walter Horton said investigators are waiting for the medical examiner’s office to wrap up its autopsy report on David Shannon, a freshman from Charlotte who fell 40 feet from equipment at a concrete plant in the town Oct. 27.
“At this point, the case is still open,” Horton said. “Unfortunately, we have not received any new information on the incident for months.”
One avenue investigators have pursued is whether hazing played a role in the death of Shannon, who was nearing completion of the pledge process for the Chi Phi fraternity.
In response to media reports in the days after Shannon’s death, police released a statement saying no evidence had emerged pointing to hazing as a factor. But Horton’s statement this week suggested police were still exploring that possibility.
Horton said depending on what information surfaces, police could level charges under North Carolina’s anti-hazing statute, a violation that constitutes a Class 2 misdemeanor. “Dependent on other developments, we may have additional charges if appropriate,” Horton said.
Ross Masters, Chi Phi’s president, told The Daily Tar Heel that the fraternity does not haze its pledges. “We were never worried about the legal aspects,” he told the paper. “Our hearts are just broken for David.” Masters declined further comment for the Review.
Police Capt. Chris Atack said Wednesday that investigators also were waiting for Shannon’s toxicology results, which are expected to shed light on whether alcohol was involved.
Police also are reaching out to Crime Stoppers in hopes of increasing the reward for information about the case.
“We have reached out to members of the fraternity and the UNC community on several occasions asking for any information and we have … not received any,” Horton said. “What little information we did receive, we could not corroborate.”
He added, “It is important to us that we do our best to provide closure to the Shannon family.”
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