Police investigating student's death as possible fraternity hazing

A student has died just days before starting his junior year at the University of California Riverside and his family is blaming fraternity hazing.

Tyler Hilliard, 20, collapsed last Saturday evening before starting a fraternity hike at a nearby park.

His family said he died in the hospital a few hours later.

"He was so nice and welcoming to everyone he knew," friend, Savannah Richardson, said. "We all really miss Tyler because he was a great guy."

Hilliard was known on campus as an active member of student life, but he was also in the midst of pledging the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

His Aunt said she discovered text messages on Hilliard's cell phone between his pledge brothers alluding to hazing.

"They are texting things like, 'This is a golden paddle day,' meaning this is a day where they are going to receive more severe beatings."

The national chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha released a statement that reads in part, "Working with the University, the Fraternity has launched an investigation into the situation and has placed the chapter on an immediate cease and desist status, suspending all activities."

The fraternity and UCR both have strict anti-hazing policies.

Riverside Police are calling the student's death suspicious and are waiting for autopsy results.

"I guess we don't have all the details, but if it really was because of hazing we need a really deep investigation and that needs to stop," Max Abundez, UCR graduate, said.

UCR isn't back in session until the end of September, but Hilliard's family said he had been participating in fraternity activities for the last few weeks.