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David Shannon was just 18 when he died after falling at a concrete plant in Carrboro. The exact circumstances of his death remain a mystery.
“All we’ve ever said is we want to know what happened that night.”
That was Hugh Shannon’s one-sentence reaction to the news that Chi Phi, the fraternity his son, David, was pledging when he fell to his death last October, had had its charter suspended indefinitely due to "alcohol violations and inappropriate New Member activities.”
And yet there are few answers about what exactly happened in the wee hours of Oct. 27, 2012 at the Ready Mixed Concrete plant in Carrboro, largely because police have run into “a solid wall of silence” from fraternity members. Was David Shannon – no relation to The WEEKLY publisher Dan Shannon – the victim of a hazing ritual? Was he left alone to fend for himself at the concrete facility? Or was it simply a tragic accident and no one is really to blame?
Carrboro Police Capt. Chris Atack says some people have lawyered up, others haven’t. But the message has remained consistent: nobody’s talking.
“We are highly confident there are people who have information relevant to Mr. Shannon’s death that can fill in the holes we have,” Atack said. “But they're opting for secrecy. We’re at a standstill at this point. We don’t have the legal power to compel anybody to tell us anything. We’re relying on the good nature of folks and their desire to want to be helpful and share the facts. We would just ask people to look in the mirror and ask, 'Is the decision I’m making the best decision I can make for David’s family and for myself?'”
UNC spokeswoman Susan Hudson said the national fraternity organization made the decision to suspend the charter “based on both new and ongoing information that, taken with what the University has been aware of in the past, allowed them to take this action with our support.”
“The suspension is not directly related to Shannon’s death, as that is an ongoing investigation with Carrboro Police Department, with which we are cooperating fully,” she said.
Atack said charges could range from misdemeanor hazing to involuntary manslaughter. “It just depends on what we’re able to definitively prove,” he said. “What we may know and what we can prove, often there’s a gulf between the two.”
He appealed to the conscience of anyone who may know what happened. "We’re hoping people can put some of this in perspective and see that what may seem like an important loyalty now, when given time and distance and some maturity, may not seem as important,” Atack said. “We have a family and a community that doesn’t have a lot of the answers. How far down the road do we have to go before someone helps us piece together this young man’s final hours?"
Anyone with information is asked to call lead investigator Sgt. Mike Metz at 919-918-7409 or the Carrboro police main line at 919-918-7397.
BACKSTORY David Shannon, 18, had a blood alcohol level of .22 when he died, an autopsy found. He is the second 2012 UNC student death still under investigation. The September murder of Faith Hedgepeth remains unsolved. TW