The university continues to investigate an incident in which members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at UTRGV allegedly fired rifles in an Alton- area ranch early March 3, officials say.
“This whole time, we were going to let [the Alton Police Department] handle the criminal part of the investigation. They’re the authorities and that’s their job,” said Patrick Gonzales, assistant vice president of University Marketing and Communications. “Our investigation was about any violation of the student conduct and discipline portion of it.”
Gonzales said the university is investigating the incident to determine if a violation was committed.
Alton Police Chief Enrique Sotelo told The Rider his department closed the case March 4. Four individuals were given citations with fines that range from $200 to $250.
“There were four citations issued for disorderly conduct [to the] four individuals that admitted to firing the weapons,” Sotelo said. “Theinvestigation has been closed. In reality, we didn’t know what was the reasoning behind the shootings. … From what [the students] were saying, they didn’t think about it. They didn’t think it through.
“We’re not going to take any action other than the citations that were issued. There’s nothing further to investigate. They told us they were having some sort of initiation ceremony. They had, like, robes and things like that there. Things that, I guess, adequately describe any kind of ceremony that they’d be holding.”
Although some media outlets called the incident an armed standoff, Sotelo said he would not use that term to describe the incident.“To me, it’s not that accurate of a term,” the chief said. “I can understand where it may fit the characteristics of a standoff because at that point our corporal started to make contact with the people inside the ranch with the vehicle’s PA system. He was issuing commands for people to make their way to the front of the property so that we can have access to talking to somebody there.”
He said 54 individuals were on the property during the incident and all claimed to be students and Kappa Sigma members.
“The department received about 20 phone calls regarding shots fired,” Sotelo said. “People were relaying that there was multiple calibers being heard. Officers on duty mobilized and began searching the area to see if we could spot the location of the shots. They were guided toward that specific ranch-style property.
“Once they got there, our corporal, using the spotlight, he was spotlighting the back portion of the ranch, which we had somewhat access to the back of the property. Anyway, he spotlights the area and notices about 20 subjects there. He activates at that time the units red and blue lights. Upon doing so, there was three to four shots that rang out from within the ranch.”
Sotelo and his officers received backup from the Mission Police Department, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which provided a helicopter.
“Once the helicopter got there, they spotlighted into the ranch and they noticed that there was 40 to 50 people. … [The ranch] is a private property. It’s in the 1400 block of North Glasscock. The owner of the property wasn’t there. One of the students is nephew to the owner.”
Sotelo said there were no injuries.