Police investigating suspicious death at Berkeley fraternity

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  Berkeley Police are investigating the death of a 23 year old student found lifeless in a fraternity house Saturday morning.

   "I can't even imagine going home for the holidays, to not have your child come home," freshman Nailah Sewell told KTVU, as she loaded her car to head home for winter break. 

   Sewell and other residents in the area of Channing and Hillside saw the police investigation: crime tape outside the Pi Kappa Phi house, and a section of Channing closed to traffic.

   The unidentified man was found at about 7:30 in the morning.

   "Somebody in the house called 911, they found him unresponsive and called, " Berkeley Police Officer Jennifer Coats told KTVU.

   Paramedics attempted CPR, but he could not be revived.

   Detectives turned to his fraternity brothers for answers to what happened, and they are cooperating.

   "In this case we just don't know specifically what may have caused his death, so its classified as suspicious," explained Officer Coats.

   The U.C. Berkeley chapter of Pi Kappa boasts 63 members according to its web site, and fall pledges pose in a group picture  on its Facebook page,

   Pictures taken a week ago show members celebrating the national fraternity's founding more than a century ago.  

   "I'm not surprised, but it's really sad too, with Christmas coming, " senior Camille French of Tiburon told KTVU.

   French and other students said they will not be surprised if drugs or alcohol played a part in the man's death.

   One year ago, almost to the day, an intoxicated student fell down nearby apartment stairs and died. 

   In November 2014, a twenty year old man was found dead in another UCB fraternity house after a big party.

   "I would be in favor of banning frats altogether, " declared French, "because an alternative way to socialize would be great. People form great relationships, but in general I think it can be a toxic environment."

    Senior Matt Gysel saw the police commotion as he set off on a morning run.

    "I've been to these frat parties, " acknowledged Gysel, "and at a certain point, things just get out of control. Stuff like this happens, and it's really awful." 

   Pi Kappa Phi doesn't have a wild reputation, at least at Cal, although chapters in Arizona and Southern California have been suspended and sued for binge drinking and hazing. 

    No one saw signs of a party at the house in Berkeley Friday night, but members may have been inclined to indulge, since it was the last day of finals.   

   "You're done with your tests, feeling great, and Berkeley's a really hard school," described Sewell, "so after that, you're ready to let it all go."

    As Sewell loaded up her car to head home with her family for the holidays, the loss to another family wasn't lost on them.   

    "I feel sympathy for them" mother Vanessa Jackson told KTVU, "but this should be a lesson for all college students that they need to look out for each other, watch each other's backs, and make sure they are well taken care of."

     No one at Pi Kappa Phi answered the door on Saturday.