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Beating suspects' smiling mugshots shock Ole Miss community

Five students have been arrested on charges relating to the severe beating of a junior accounting major at the University of Mississippi. The smiling mugshots of four of the suspects has sparked outrage in the university community.

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    These Oct. 16, 2015 booking photos released by the Lafayette County Detention Center show Kyle Hughes (upper left), James Declan Basile (upper right), Austin Rice (lower left), and Christian Guy (lower right), four of five University of Mississippi students arrested following the Oct. 6, beating of another student at the Sigma Pi fraternity house.
    Lafayette County Detention Center/The Oxford Eagle/AP
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Police have arrested five University of Mississippi students for their alleged involvement in the late night beating of another student on Oct. 6.

A university police report alleges that the five students beat Jeremy Boyle, a junior accounting major, at the Sigma Pi fraternity house in an apparent act of hazing.

The Daily Mississippian reported that Mr. Boyle suffered a concussion, several broken teeth, a lung contusion, and a ruptured eardrum.

“It was shocking,” Brian Boyle, victim Jeremy Boyle’s father, told the student newspaper. “There is a different culture in the South. People have good behavior. It’s not something you would have expected. Especially at Ole Miss.”

Tucker Cole Steil, a freshman member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, was charged last Friday with felony assault in the beating of Boyle. He posted $10,000 bail and was released from jail on Monday.

The four other freshmen allegedly involved in the beating were charged with misdemeanors and released. James Declan Basile was charged with simple assault, hazing, and theft, while Christian Guy, Kyle Hughes, and Austin Rice were each charged with theft. It is unclear whether any of them besides Mr. Steil are members of a fraternity.

In their arrest photos, all but Steil are shown smiling, drawing widespread outrage from the university community.

"It's just disgusting," Ole Miss student Rienzi Gray told WHBQ-TV. "How could you be happy?"

The Oxford Eagle reports that while hazing is a misdemeanor in the criminal world, it can be a much more serious offense at Ole Miss. The university has a zero tolerance policy for such occurrences, which can lead to a student’s expulsion. The police report indicates that the students were referred to the university's Judicial Council for discipline.

It remains unclear why the beating was considered hazing or what the students allegedly stole. University police Capt. Jane Tutor told the Associated Press that an investigation is underway and that more information may be available when it’s complete.

"The safety and welfare of our students are among our highest priorities. Upon learning of the incident, the University Police Department immediately initiated an investigation that led to recent criminal charges and related student conduct proceedings," Ole Miss spokesman Danny Blanton told the AP. "As one of the safest campuses in the country, we are committed to holding students responsible for their behavior."

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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