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Florida A&M band member injured in suspected hazing

A Florida A&M University freshman is in the hospital after an alleged hazing of first-year trumpet players in the marching band.

Marcus Parker, a Marching 100 band member from Jacksonville, checked into Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Sunday night after receiving an apparent beating last Thursday night, said Julian White, band director.

Parker, still in the hospital Wednesday, declined to talk about his injuries.

His mother, Audrey Parker, also declined comment, saying she didn't want to jeopardize a FAMU Police Department investigation.

White said it appears Parker was hazed by several former band members and possibly current band members at an unidentified apartment. White first found out about it when Parker's parents called him Sunday.

"We're just so disappointed that this incident has occurred. We were just so sure our students understood we are not going to tolerate this," White said. "We are determined to find those individuals who are guilty."

FAMU police Chief Calvin Ross said police are investigating the alleged aggravated battery of Parker and other possible victims who aren't in the hospital. Several band members have been called in for questioning. No one had been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm hoping we'll be able to at least come up with some preliminary conclusions within the next few days," Ross said. "We want to determine if this is an ongoing practice."

Hazing has plagued the famed band since the 1950s. Band members caught hazing used to be suspended. Now, they are barred from ever returning to the band, White said. A 1990 Florida law prohibits hazing.

Most recently, the university kicked 11 students out of the band and suspended them and nine former band members from the university during the 1998-99 school year for hazing.

Student Ivery D. Luckey, a clarinet player, said he was paddled at least 300 times as part of an initiation in 1998, resulting in hospitalization and permanent injury. He sued the then-Board of Regents last year. His case is pending.

"We just want to get to the bottom of it," White said about the current allegations. "One of our objectives of the year was to eliminate any vestige of hazing . . . Our student leaders are committed to eradicating this cloud over our heads."

The university issued a statement late Wednesday, saying it has a "zero tolerance policy" on hazing. Students found guilty are subject to immediate suspension and possible expulsion, said Eddie Jackson, FAMU spokesman.