A young man was found dead Saturday at Pi Kappa Phi. Image: Google Maps
A young man was found dead Saturday at Pi Kappa Phi. Image: Google Maps

Police responded to a Berkeley fraternity Saturday morning after receiving a report of a young man found unresponsive there.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said police were called to the 2900 block of Channing Way, between Prospect and Warring streets, just before 7:30 a.m., to investigate the death.

“Our officers are there now and the investigation is on-going,” he said. Rateaver said he could release no further details but that more information will be released later by the department.

According to police scanner recordings reviewed by Berkeleyside, paramedics and police were called to 2908 Channing, the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, after a 23-year-old man was found unresponsive inside the house Saturday morning.

An attempt to resuscitate the man using CPR was unsuccessful, according to the recording. Officers on the scene were taking statements and trying to piece together what had taken place.

A young man was found dead Saturday at Pi Kappa Phi. Image: Ted Friedman

The fire department had just been called to the fraternity early Saturday morning, at about 12:30 a.m., for a report of a commercial fire alarm on the second floor.

Berkeleyside has requested comment from the UC Berkeley Gamma chapter of the fraternity, as well as national headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Peter Shelton, a spokesman for the national office, said shortly after publication that he had just received word of the fatality.

“With the school term over for the holidays, fewer people are around but we’ve asked our students to cooperate with the local authorities who are leading an investigation,” he said by email. The fall semester ended Dec. 18.

The fraternity was founded in 1904 at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, and has 141 active chapters.

According to a review on the website Greek Rank, there has been more activity at the fraternity of late: “Guys here are definitely on the rise. Been throwing more decent parties lately and being more social.”

A young man was found dead Saturday at Pi Kappa Phi. Image: Google Maps

Saturday evening, Claire Holmes, a UC Berkeley spokeswoman, described the loss as “tragic.”

“Our hearts go out to all the deceased’s families, friends and loved ones,” she said. “UC Berkeley is awaiting further details regarding the reported death of a young man near the UC Berkeley campus on December 19, 2015.  The available information is that the deceased was not a current UC Berkeley student. As information becomes available, we will provide updates.”

Nearly one year ago to the day, a 20-year-old junior from San Ramon who was pursuing a double major in applied mathematics and economics at UC Berkeley was found dead at his Southside Berkeley home after losing his balance and falling down a brick staircase. He was found to have potentially fatal alcohol levels in his bloodstream.

In November 2014, a 20-year-old man was found dead at the Zeta Psi fraternity, at 2728 Bancroft Way, the day after the frat threw a large party that drew hundreds of attendees.

In the aftermath of those tragedies, the city of Berkeley has begun taking steps to improve the safety and oversight of group housing such as fraternities. The CalGreeks community’s Interfraternity Council also put additional measures in place to curb the impacts of drinking, such as banning alcohol stronger than 20% in common areas and imposing escalating fees for violations.

Though the circumstances of this most recent fatality are not known, according to the city, “95% of all injuries and deaths at Fraternities nationwide are alcohol- or drug-related.” In September, authorities reported a record number of tickets and arrests during an annual enforcement effort that targets drinking at UC Berkeley.

Police and the coroner on scene on Channing Way. Photo: Ted Friedman

[Editor’s Note: The headline of this story was updated shortly after publication pending confirmation of the young man’s age from authorities. A statement from the fraternity’s national headquarters was also added to the story. The UC Berkeley statement was added Saturday night.]

Alcohol at Cal: Authorities report record arrests, tickets (09.10.15)
Berkeley neighbors take on ‘noisy and drunken parties’ (05.05.15)
UC Berkeley student ID’d as Southside fatality, died from head trauma (12.22.14)
20-year-old man found dead in Southside Berkeley (12.20.14)
Man, 20, found dead after party at Berkeley frat house (11.09.14)
Op-ed: Cal should take down beer and athletics billboard (11.03.14)
Student drinking at Cal taxes Berkeley paramedics (11.12.13)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...