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Police probe Buffalo State student’s death as possible hazing

Buffalo police are investigating the death of a SUNY Buffalo State student, who may have suffered internal injuries from an alleged off-campus hazing incident.

Bradley D’Oyley, 21, of Brooklyn, died Thursday night at Buffalo General Medical Center, after having come down with an unexplained illness late last month.

He apparently was pledging for the local chapter of a national fraternity at the time he became ill.

Students at the college on Friday said there were reports he might have been given some type of concoction to drink that led to his illness. Police, however, stressed that the investigation is continuing and that no judgments should be made until more facts are known. D’Oyley had gone to the hospital last month after complaining of not feeling well.

An autopsy has been completed, but the cause of death has not yet been determined, police said.

College officials suspended the charter of the Delta Epsilon chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha as a result of the investigation. The officials also said they are supportive of the Buffalo Police Department’s investigation.

Buffalo State President Katherine S. Conway-Turner issued a statement acknowledging the allegation of hazing and the police investigation:

“Buffalo State College is aware of and continues to support the City of Buffalo Police Department’s investigation into an allegation of hazing involving Alpha Phi Alpha and Bradley D’Oyley at an off-campus location. While the investigation is conducted, the campus chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha has been suspended by both the college and the fraternity’s national governing body.”

D’Oyley was a business student and former basketball player for the school. He was to graduate this spring.

Buffalo State men’s basketball coach Fajri Ansari said, “He called me from the hospital Jan. 29 to say he felt sick. He thought it might have been something bad he ate. He had a great spirit. We still considered him part of our family. He was a great teammate.”

D’Oyley, who had played point guard for the Bengals, left the team last year for personal reasons, but remained in good standing, the coach said.

“After I spoke with him, he was discharged from the hospital,” Ansari said, adding that he was later readmitted. The coach declined to comment on the allegations of hazing.

On the campus, friends and acquaintances have been shaken by his death.

“I was in the weight room and heard he was pledging and was made to drink some type of toxic substance,” said Dametrius Brown, a member of the college football team. “I keep hearing different stories. First it was detergent, then some said sewer water. I’d see Bradley every day.”

Student Monique Maxwell and two friends openly wept for D’Oyley in the Student Life offices at the college’s Campbell Student Union.

“He was outgoing. He had positive energy all the time. He was always upbeat,” Maxwell said. “Even if you weren’t friends with him, you knew him because of the way he was.”

D’Oyley’s family members, from the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, had been at his bedside throughout the ordeal, and while they say they cannot discuss the investigation at this time, they expressed gratitude for the love and support they have received from members of the Buffalo State community in helping them deal with their grief.

D’Oyley was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters whose parents, Lorna and Bradley Sr., immigrated to America from Jamaica. His dream was to one day manage a professional sports team or serve as an agent representing athletes, according to Sherelle Wint, an older sister.

“He was an amazing brother and son, the best you could ask for,” she said. Wint also described her brother as a wonderful basketball player. D’Oyley’s half-ending, buzzer-beating basket, shot from 70 feet away during a January 2014 game at SUNY Cortland, was nominated as the “GEICO Play of the Year” in college basketball in 2014.

By pursuing a business degree, D’Oyley “wanted to combine his love for sports with business,” Wint said.

Ansari recalled that he had personally recruited D’Oyley to play for Buffalo State.

“He was from Brooklyn and had attended what was known as Lafayette High School, though the name has changed,” Ansari said. “Bradley always wanted his teammates to be together. He was always up and excited for the games and even though he left, he was close to the team members. He was so young and had so much promise.”

A moment of silence in his memory was scheduled at Friday night’s Bengals basketball game against SUNY New Paltz. Other students were planning to set up a table in the college’s Sports Arena to collect money to help the family pay for funeral expenses.

The family also was planning to set up an online gofundme account for donations. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Conway-Turner, in announcing D’Oyley’s death, stated:

“With a heavy heart, I regret to inform you that Buffalo State College student Bradley D’Oyley passed away at Buffalo General Medical Center last night. He was a valued member of the Bengals men’s basketball team during his first two and a half years on campus and was well regarded by his peers, professors, and former coaches. His loss will undoubtedly be felt throughout our community. My heart goes out to his cherished family and friends. Please join me in keeping the D’Oyley family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

Staff members at the college’s Counseling Center, she said, were available “to support and talk with students, faculty, and staff struggling with this terrible loss.”

Alpha Phi Alpha’s national office in Baltimore did not return a telephone call, but sent a statement to The News by email, stating that fraternity officials were aware of the incident at Buffalo State.

“We are unable to comment about any allegations at this time. The situation is currently under investigation and the chapter has been placed on a cease and desist, suspending all chapter activities, which is a part of our standard protocol when the national headquarters has received an allegation regarding any of its chapters,” reads the statement, which was sent by organization spokesman Bryan J.A. Kelly.

The statement also said that Alpha Phi Alpha strictly prohibits any illegal acts, including hazing, and the fraternity will cooperate with law enforcement to ensure anyone found violating the law is prosecuted.

Buffalo State first granted a charter in 1980 recognizing the Delta Epsilon chapter as an on-campus student organization. The group did not have any prior suspensions, according to college officials. The college has never had a student death related to hazing, officials said.

Alpha Phi Alpha was founded in 1906 at Cornell University as the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity for African-American men. It now has 686 chapters worldwide, including at the University at Buffalo and Canisius College.

News Staff Reporter Jay Tokasz contributed to this report. email: