After sheriff cites hazing in FAMU death, parents say band was abusive. According to the Washington Post article Robert Champion, 26, was found unresponsive on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel on Saturday night after the school’s football team lost to rival Bethune-Cookman. Investigators believe hazing occurred before 911 was called. Champion was vomiting and had complained he couldn’t breathe before he collapsed.

The 26-year-old was a first-year drum major poised to become the top student in the band next year.

On Tuesday, the parents of three members of the FAMU “Marching 100” band told the Sentinel that they have implored university officials for months to end the verbal and physical abuse that one parent characterized as “a well-kept secret.”

Felicia Fabre, whose son is a sophomore in the band, said she received a text message Saturday night saying a drum major had been killed after a hazing incident.

Her first thought was, “Oh, my God, I told them that this was going to happen,” Fabre said. She shared with the Sentinel a series of emails, beginning in August, that outlined some of the abusive behavior her son had witnessed and been subjected to by “section leaders” in the band. (As quoted in the Palm Beach Post and Orlando Sentinel)

“These practice[s] MUST STOP and they will not until someone stands up and some changes are made,” Fabre wrote in an email to band director Julian White and Ralph Turner, listed on the website as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I feel because of love, calling and duty I must not only speak up for my son, but also for the students who are being belittled and mistreated and feel they do not have a voice.”

The exact cause and manner of Champion’s death are pending the autopsy results, said Sheri Blanton, a forensic coordinator for the medical examiner. There is no timetable for getting the results back, but most cases take 10 to 12 weeks, she said. FAMU officials acknowledged that 30 students have been kicked off the band this semester due to hazing incidents. There are currently three investigations. On Tuesday, officials at the Tallahassee school suspended the famed Marching 100 band and any other ensemble that performs under the supervision of the FAMU music department. The move affects more than 400 students.

The Marching 100 — whose rich history includes performing at several Super Bowls and representing the U.S. in Paris at the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution — was scheduled to perform at the fall commencement on Dec. 16.

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