Calls for end to hazing at funeral

DECATUR, Ga. -- The funeral for a Florida A&M University drum major turned into a call for action Wednesday as speakers urged for an end to the hazing linked to the death of Robert Champion.

As hundreds of friends and family members gathered to remember Champion, Florida police were investigating another possible case of hazing at Florida A&M, as Tallahassee police opened an investigation into the alleged battery of 18-year-old Bria Shante Hunter.

Hunter's parents told Atlanta's WXIA-TV on Tuesday that the
freshman clarinet player suffered a fractured thigh bone and
damaged knee. They say when she returned to Georgia she couldn't
bend her legs.

At Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur, near Atlanta, Champion's drum major uniform was on display next to his open casket. Members of the marching band from Southwest DeKalb High School, where Champion attended, performed in full regalia at the beginning and end of the service.

Beulah Missionary Baptist Church pastor John Tatum urged the
crowd to stop the "foolish" hazing in college fraternities and
marching bands.

"If there's anything about this man's legacy we need to put a
stop to, it's hazing," he said to a chorus of amens. "I call upon
every parent, every mother, every father ... do what is necessary
now to stop this tragedy from ever happening again."

The 26-year-old junior was found dead Nov. 19 on a bus parked
outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after the school's football team
lost to a rival. Police said Champion, a clarinet player, had been
vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe shortly before he
collapsed, but they have not released any other details.

Since Champion's death, Julian White, the band director at the
historically black university in Tallahassee, has been fired. The
school has announced an independent probe, and the university
president said he will work to end the long practice of hazing in
the marching band.

Speaking at the service, White said Champion was like a son to
him. He said he saw Champion shortly after he was found unconscious and he "looked in peace."

"This is a difficult time for me. You may see me smile, and you
probably won't see me cry," he said. "I'm happy that I knew Robert."

The group that oversees Florida's public universities announced
Tuesday it wanted to investigate whether the school did enough to
respond to hazing.

Champion fell in love with music when he was about age 6. He
started in bands in middle school and his mother said he was so
enthusiastic about performances she called him "Mr. Band."

The Florida A&M band, known as the "Marching 100," is one of the most prominent in the nation. The band has performed at Super Bowls, the Grammys and presidential inaugurations.

University president James Ammons pledged to "stamp out hazing at FAMU."

"I vow that Robert's death will not be in vain," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.