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Hazing of pledge with a gun shuts down Kappa Sigma: ABC News

A New Mexico State University student has been accused of shooting a classmate in an alleged hazing incident that resulted in his fraternity’s suspension.

Miguel Altamirano was charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly shot Jonathan Sillas in the leg as he pledged the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

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Altamirano could face as many as many as three years in prison if convicted as charged, but his attorney, C.J. McEllhinney, said the shooting wasn’t intentional. He said the shooting happened as the students were “joking around.”

“The evidence in this case is consistent with negligent handling of a firearm and not the crime of aggravated assault,” McEllhinney told ABC News on Thursday. “It is not uncommon for the State of New Mexico to overcharge criminal defendants.”

He said Altamirano was expelled over the November incident, despite showing intense remorse for his actions.

“My client never intended to hurt anyone and is remorseful that Mr. Sillas was injured,” McEllhinney said. This unfortunate incident occurred in the context of a fraternity event.”

Sillas, a criminal justice major, said Kappa Sigma fraternity members pulled him aside and ordered him to turn around during an initiation event. He said he was expecting to get hit with a paddle from behind, but he never imagined he’d be shot.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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