CHICO, Calif. - Chico State University has suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity while it investigates charges members vandalized the Deer Creek Trailhead Campground in Tehama County.
This week, the US Forest Service law enforcement filed a criminal complaint against the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and its president, Evan Jossey. Officials are alleging the group cut down about 32 trees and had a gun with them on the Lassen National Forest during an initiation of new pledges.
Chico State said Pi Kappa Alpha has denied its involvement in a written statement. The University continues to investigate the claims and in a statement, said:
"Our staff members are investigating the claims to ascertain the facts and determine who was involved. The fraternity has denied its involvement in a written statement. We have suspended the fraternity temporarily per standard procedure when an investigation is being conducted.
As we’ve said previously, regardless of who perpetrated the vandalism, the act in and of itself is completely unacceptable. As members of the Chico community, we believe an affront like this is an affront to us all. Until we have the outcome of our investigation, we will refrain from commenting further."
Pi Kappa Alpha has not responded to any efforts for a comment, but locals are very vocal about their distaste for the situation.
"That's just disrespectful, ill mannered," said Autum Vose. "I mean, it speaks to their character."
"That's a huge problem, because first of all, that's illegal," said Annemarie Parrelli Peters. "Second of all, to go and hurt all wildlife, I mean, all those trees! What about all those displaced animals?"
"I think they should do a lot of community service," said Nancy Neidhardt. "Just going around picking up trash, doing a lot of hours."
The US Forest Service said this is an ongoing investigation and it expects to file additional charges at a later date. The fraternity and its president are scheduled to appear in court in Redding on June 26.