University Cracks Down in Wake of Fraternity Violence

SBy John Glionna and Chris O’Connell

sAN JOSE, Calif. – Both Asian American fraternities involved in Wednesday’s deadly predawn melee will be suspended and those found to have participated in the violence will be expelled, San Jose State University President Robert L. Caret said Thursday.

“The university will not tolerate thuggish or ganglike behavior from any of its students,” Caret said. “Those responsible for it have no place on our campus.”

Police said Alam Kim, 23, was slain by a single stab wound in the heart and several others were wounded when members of the university’s Pi Alpha Phi and Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternities brawled at a neighborhood park shortly after midnight. Police said they questioned dozens of participants, but there were no arrests.

As many as 100 people may have been involved in the brawl, including some students recruited from the Pi Alpha Phi chapter at the University of California, Santa Cruz, investigators said. Several of the participants were armed with sticks and knives.

Officials said the brawl may have stemmed from an argument at a billiard hall in nearby Santa Clara Monday night.

“There has been a long standing rivalry” between the two fraternities, San Jose Police Sgt. Steve Dixon said Thursday. “It doesn’t look like any of these folks are hard core gang members, but it has all the earmarks of a gang fight.”

Dixon said statements have been taken from 71 people, and some bloody clothing was recovered from the Pi Alpha Phi house Thursday morning.

A woman who lives next to Pi Alpha Phi said Thursday that she heard threats being shouted outside that fraternity house several hours before the brawl, although she didn’t know who made them or to whom they were directed.

“I heard things like, `Well, I’m coming back, and I’m going to kill you,’ ” said Lucia Fagundes, a 43-year-old telemarketer.

“For a long time, there has been fighting, drinking and partying” at Pi Alpha Phi, Fagundes said. “It starts on Thursday and continues through the weekend.”

Fagundes said she’s called police at least a half dozen times. Each time, she said, the noise has quieted down, only to resume after an hour or two.

Caret said the university would review its affiliations with all fraternities and sororities.

“Yes, they have parties and get neighbors upset,” he said. “But these fraternities have been a very positive influence on campus.”

Caret said every effort would be made to determine exactly what happened late Tuesday and early Wednesday, and why.

“I can’t even conjure up in my mind what it would take to get 60 to 100 students, presumably well educated individuals, and get them into a gang or `Lord of The Flies’ or pack mentality,” Caret said. “It’s baffling why someone didn’t stand up and say, `This is crazy.’ “

Attempts to discuss the incident with members of the two fraternities were rebuffed Thursday. One young man, retreating into the Pi Alpha Phi house, told an inquiring reporter, “Call my lawyers.”

Members of Kim’s family declined comment.

Kim, a member of Lambda Phi Epsilon, worked weekends at his father’s ABC Cellular shop in San Jose.

Michelle Vu, 55, who owns the hair salon next door, said the young man was a “nice boy” who earned the respect of the neighborhood for helping out in the store, which has been closed since the incident.