The Warren Police Department has begun interviewing students, with parents present, and plans to interview every member of the Warren De La Salle varsity football team amid a hazing incident that led the school to cancel its state playoff game last week.
Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said he has assigned five investigators to the case, and hopes they can conclude all interviews, including with school staff, administrators and football coaches, by Thursday.
Given it’s an ongoing investigation, Dwyer declined to say how many people were allegedly involved in the hazing, or exactly when the incident took place.
He did say, however, that the incident was “very recent.”
Dwyer also clarified comments he made in the press last week, when he called out De La Salle officials for trying to keep the investigation in-house rather than go to police first. De La Salle president John M. Knight told media outlets, including The Detroit News, on Friday that Dwyer’s comments were “inaccurate.”
Dwyer on Tuesday explained the situation like this: On Thursday morning and Thursday afternoon, De La Salle officials placed two calls to the police department, to a detective that was off work for several days. De La Salle officials left voicemails for that detective, and Dwyer was in the dark when the media started calling Thursday night.
“They should’ve contacted me or somebody, but they left voicemails,” Dwyer told The News. “They should have called the police commissioner or somebody of rank rather than leave a voice mail for somebody who might be out of town for a few weeks.”
Once Dwyer was made aware of the hazing incident from the news media — reporters were calling after the school announced the two-time defending state champion was cancelling its playoff game against Birmingham Groves — he contacted Knight.
Knight and other De La Salle officials met with police at headquarters Friday morning.
“I called the president on Friday and clarified that, and they’ve been very cooperative,” Dwyer said. “They’ve been working with us since Friday. The problem was Thursday, leaving a voicemail.”
It’s not clear the nature of the hazing, whether it was sexual or otherwise, but De La Salle officials deemed it much more serious than when it first came to light. That convinced them to pull the plug on the football season, about 24 hours before kickoff.
De La Salle officials wouldn’t comment further on the situation Tuesday, declining to say if any disciplinary action has been taken against students or coaches.
“Due to the active police investigation, we cannot comment further than what has already been stated,” the school said in a statement to The Detroit News by spokesman Bill Roose. “As always, safety is a priority at De La Salle Collegiate and we are following our procedures in following up on potential issues.
“We will continue to strive to make sure all of our students are not only safe at school but also feel safe.
Varsity football coach Mike Giannone, winner of four state titles — two at Macomb Dakota and two at De La Salle — hasn’t responded to a request for comment.