VCU fraternity under investigation after death of freshman student

Courtesy Courtney WhiteBy DEVIN VILLACIS and IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(RICHMOND, Va.) — Virginia Commonwealth University said it shut down a fraternity and the police are investigating after a freshman student was found dead this weekend.

Adam Oakes, 19, was found dead at an off-campus residence early Saturday morning by authorities, the university and the Richmond Police Department said in statements. The medical examiner’s office is working to determine the cause of death, according to Richmond Police.

“This is a tragic loss for Adam’s family and members of our community, and we encourage any students in need of support to contact University Counseling Services,” the school said in a statement.

Oakes’ cousin, Courtney White, told ABC News that the teen had rushed the university’s Delta Chi fraternity, and this weekend was the night of his “big little reveal.”

The national office of Delta Chi said in a statement it suspended its VCU chapter Saturday afternoon and extended its condolences to Oakes’ family.

“We encourage all members to cooperate with law enforcement, investigative efforts and all directives of the University Administration,” the national fraternity organization said in its statement.

The university said it also took “similar action” against the chapter.

White, 39, said Oakes was an only child and the youngest of all of the family’s cousins. She said her cousin pledged with the fraternity because “he was just trying to be accepted and find his place.”

“Adam was a kid who loved life and was just coming out of his shell,” White told ABC News.

The university instructed students to contact the Richmond Police if they have any information regarding Oakes’ death or this weekend’s incident. Richmond Police said anyone with information is asked to call Major Crimes Detective Michael Gouldman at (804) 646-3915 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

White urged her cousin’s classmates and fraternity members to speak up and help find answers.

“Don’t be afraid, be brave,” she said. “There is no healing from this, but it would give us a sense of what happened.”

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