Arkansas college student fatally beaten in gang rite

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An Arkansas college student has died after being severely beaten in what Memphis police say was a gang initiation.

Police identified the victim as 22-year-old Keith Saulsberry, a student at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, who could have graduated in December.

The Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office said Saulsberry died of head injuries.

According to a police affidavit, Saulsberry was beaten by members of the Bloods late Friday as part of his initiation rites into the street gang.  After throwing water on him for a half-hour, gang members took Saulsberry to Methodist Hospital, where he died early Saturday.

Police said the initiation process is known as getting 'jumped in.' It is a two on one scenario, meaning two Bloods take on one pledge, in a three minute attack.  Usually, pledges are not allowed to defend themselves, and cannot fight back.

Joe Hunter, founder of Gang, Inc., said gang initiates volunteer to get beaten.

"When you will stand to join an organization so bad that you would take a beating for it, it causes concern to me," Hunter said.

Saulsberry's cousin, Jimmy, said his family was in shock over the death.

"I wish it never happened," he said. "But it happened, so we just got to stay strong."

Police arrested Robert Barlow and had a warrant for Raymond Clark. Both are charged with aggravated assault and reckless homicide.

"Now we have a dead guy that happens to be one of their friends ... who I'm sure they didn't want to die," Hunter said, "but the message to younger persons who want to be a gang member is you can die getting in."

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