By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State University suspended a fraternity for five years after a student was shot in the leg during an initiation event, officials said.

The Kappa Sigma fraternity held the November event at a campground in Cloudcroft, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Thursday.

Kappa Sigma’s charter at New Mexico State has been revoked and the organization dismissed from campus through Dec. 31, 2024, officials said.

The student newspaper The Round Up first reported the male student suffered a gunshot wound to the leg during a fraternity camping event.

Miguel Altamirano was charged with fourth-degree felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor negligent use of a deadly weapon while intoxicated.

Altamirano told investigators he did not know the .40-caliber handgun was loaded when he placed the gun on another student’s leg and pulled the trigger, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office informed the New Mexico State Police, which contacted the office of student Dean Ann Coombes Goodman.

Students pledging to Kappa Sigma were required to participate in loyalty oaths with guns held to their heads or other parts of their body and at times instructed to pull the triggers of the weapons, according to a Dec. 18 dean’s office report.

“Kappa Sigma violated their own national fraternity expectations and local chapter bylaws specific to hazing, new member activities, alcohol use, pledging activities, and social events,” the report said.

The report also detailed hazing activities prohibited by university rules governing student organizations.

Members and officers of the fraternity chapter encouraged students to attend ceremonies with activities such as tackling pledges near a campfire, as well as the loyalty oaths with guns. No fraternity member intervened despite the risk to the health and safety of members, the university investigation found.

The Kappa Sigma national headquarters in Virginia said the fraternity is “unequivocally opposed to any form of hazing.”

“It is against our core values and against Kappa Sigma’s Code of Conduct,” Executive Director Mitchell Wilson said. “We cannot comment on details of chapter or membership disciplinary proceedings, however, any member found to be in violation of the Fraternity’s Code of Conduct will be held accountable.”

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