Police round up 16 TCU students in drug-dealing arrests; one at large

16 students were arrested in a recent drug bust. According to Sergeant Pedro Criado, Hunter Wallace McLaughlin, fourth from the left of the bottom row, is still at large. Earl Burke's mug shot was not found online and not included in the illustration. Photo illustration by Lexy Cruz. Photo by Matt Coffelt, TCU Daily Skiff Photo by Matt Coffelt, TCU Daily Skiff  Photo by Matt Coffelt, TCU Daily Skiff Photo by Matt Coffelt, TCU Daily Skiff
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The Fort Worth Police Department released the names of those arrested. TCU 360 has listed the names of those arrested at the end of this story.

TCU was thrust into the spotlight Wednesday morning with the arrest of 16 current students and one former student on suspicion of dealing drugs. Police were still searching for one suspect Wednesday evening.

According to Sgt. Pedro Criado of the Fort Worth Police Department, a six-month drug investigation by Fort Worth and TCU police led to the arrest of 17 people Wednesday morning.

The university removed the current students from campus pending the investigation. University and police officials held a press conference Wednesday morning where they indicated the investigation remains ongoing and that more arrests are likely. The investigation was sparked by several dozen tips given to police by students, staff, parents and the Fort Worth community, TCU Police Chief Steven McGee said.

Late Wednesday, Fort Worth Police clarified the number of arrest warrants issued after realizing they had the wrong photo and date of birth for one of the suspects.

Another person was arrested during the operation as a result of an on-view drug violation for possession of marijuana, Criado wrote in an email clarifying the day’s events.

Austin Williams Carpenter was incorrectly listed on the invalid warrant, Criado wrote.

Four football players were arrested during the drug bust Wednesday.

“There’s no doubt all arrested today are drug dealers,” McGee told reporters at the press conference. “These students engaged in hand-to-hand delivery with undercover officers.”

McGee said the drugs involved included marijuana, ecstasy pills, a powdered form of ecstasy commonly called “molly” and prescription drugs such as Xanax, hydrocodone and Oxycontin.

Chancellor Victor Boschini said at the press conference, “Ninety-nine point nine percent of the kids here do the right thing, and we want to make sure that the kids that don’t aren’t at TCU.”

TCU Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said in a statement that criminal conduct would not be tolerated in the athletics program: “Our student-athletes are a microcosm of society and unfortunately that means some of our players reflect a culture that glorifies drugs and drug use. That mindset is not reflected by TCU nor will it be allowed within athletics.”

Head football coach Gary Patterson said in a statement he and his staff would not tolerate drug use on the team.

“Our program is respected nationally for its strong ethics and for that reason the players arrested today were separated from TCU by the University. I believe strongly that young people’s lives are more important than wins or losses,” Patterson said in a statement.

Boschini said in a separate interview police told him of the investigation about eight days ago.

“They said they were in the process of an investigation that might result in arrests, but of course they didn’t give me or anyone else any specific details because they didn’t want to lose the element of surprise,” he said.

McGee said that TCU Police did not expect the investigation to be as widespread across campus as it was.

“When we first started, we thought it was the outside people preying on our students, and we were surprised at the number of the drug-dealing students we had,” McGee said.

Boschini said he notified the chairman of the board of trustees. As of now, the board of trustees will not hold a meeting concerning the drug bust but will discuss it at its upcoming meeting in April, Boschini said. He added that he expected to have all of the information concerning the drug arrests by March 30.

“We don’t want these students on our campus, and if anyone is dealing drugs or breaking the law, get rid of them,” Boschini said. “Any students dealing and working in these illegal things have to go somewhere else because it’s not going to be here.”

Those arrested were involved in a variety of organizations including athletics and Greek life, Boschini said.

“These are individual charges against individual people at this point,” he said. “If they find out later that these are organizations involved, then those organizations will face disciplinary action, too. So far, I think it’s individuals who happen to be in a variety of organizations.”

Last year, 71 students were taken through the university system for drug violations, Boschini said.

Former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Don Mills said there were drug problems on campus during his term of the past 17 years, but not to this extent.

“There has been a noticeable increase in the use of a wide variety of drugs over the last three or four years, including prescription drugs as well as street drugs,” Mills said.

He said the university had to do two things: The first was to have programming about drugs, and the second was to intervene in a counseling or a disciplinary way when problems became known.

Boschini and Mills said the university had a zero tolerance policy about drug behavior.

The response from parents, alumni, students and trustees was mostly positive, Boschini said. Of the about 500 emails Boschini said he recieved, he said only two were negative.

Student Government Association President Brent Folan said the general reaction from students was shock.

“It is unfortunate that a group of students chose to abuse the privledges of a TCU education and not only hurt themselves and their family but their TCU family as well,” Folan said. “I’m proud that many students felt strong enough to report their behavior because that sends a strong statement that this is not acceptable on campus.”

TCU students uphold their moral and ethical standards and know that those found guilty will be expelled right away, Folan said.

“What happened [Wednesday] does not define us as a school or a community,” he said. “People need to realize it’s sad that so few people were able to take the focus and the spotlight off our basketball team beating UNLV [Tuesday], who are No. 11 [in the country]. That was a huge moment for our basketball program, and it’s unfortunate that this incident had to happen to make our students lose focus off that.”

Students planned a prayer service for the campus at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Frog Fountain, where Boschini said he would be in attendance.

Fort Worth Police released the names of those arrested:

Current Students:
1. Bud Pollard Dillard
2. Cynthia (Cindy) Jaqueline Zambrano
3. David Wayne (DJ) Yendrey Jr.*
4. Devin Jay Johnson*
5. Earl Patrick Burke
6. Hunter Wallace McLaughlin
7. Jonathan Blake Jones
8. Katherine Ann Petrie
9. Matthew Iarossi Davis
10. Michael Gragg King
11. Peter Signavong
12. Richard Clay Putney
13. Scott (Scooter) Lee Anderson
14. Tanner Wilson Brock*
15. Taylor Davis Cowdin
16. Tyler (Ty) Andrew Horn*
17. William (Will) Davis Jennings

One former student:
18. Eduardo (Eddie) J. Hernandez

*Football Player

The email from Boschini sent campus-wide at 8:05 a.m.:

Dear Campus Community,

Early today the Fort Worth Police Department and TCU Campus Police concluded an investigation into drug selling on and around campus that unfortunately led to the arrest of many current TCU students.

While this news is certainly shocking and disappointing, it is important to remember that TCU has clear expectations for its students: that they behave in an ethical manner, abide by campus policies and adhere to state and federal law. These students are charged with acting in a manner that is incompatible with TCU values and against the law.  That is simply unacceptable and such reported behavior is not tolerated at this University.

We have a responsibility to ensure that our campus environment is free of such behavior. Today’s actions highlight that responsibility. The students involved were immediately separated from TCU and criminally trespassed from campus. Further, according to University policy, students arrested and found in violation of distributing drugs are subject to immediate expulsion from TCU.

TCU has never before experienced a magnitude of student arrests such as this. In fact, Campus Police records show only five student arrests related to drug law violations in recent years. I have asked our vice chancellor for student affairs, Dr. Kathy Cavins-Tull, to examine whether any new programs or procedures need to be implemented to curtail this type of behavior in the future. The Fort Worth Police Department also has offered to help in these efforts.

Today’s events have forever changed the lives of the involved students, and we hope they will find a healthy way to move forward. Also, the next couple of weeks will be tough for the TCU family. There is no doubt that it will hurt to see our name associated with this type of behavior. But we must not allow this moment to define us. We must remember that we are overwhelmingly a community of dedicated students, faculty and staff and focused on changing the world through our collective work and commitment to leadership.

Sincerely,
Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr.

A correction to the story concerning Austin Williams Carpenter was made at 9:16 p.m. Wednesday night. 

Lexy Cruz, Andrea Masenda, Emily Atteberry, Ryan Osborne and Jordan Rubio contributed to this report.

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