Dallas high school grads ID'd in racist OU frat video; apologies made

Two now-former University of Oklahoma students involved in a racist video that has sparked controversy were identified Tuesday, and both are Dallas-area high school graduates. One of the former OU students has issued an apology, along with the parents of the other.

Jesuit Dallas 2014 graduate Parker Rice, 19, was one of the students identified in the video leading racist chants. The other student has been identified as 20-year-old Levi Pettit, who graduated from Highland Park High School in 2013.

Rice apologized in a statement emailed by his father, The Associated Press reports, and FOX4 received a statement Tuesday evening from Pettit's parents.

Rice said the incident "likely was fueled by alcohol," but "that's not an excuse." He said he was "deeply sorry" for the performance, calling it "wrong and reckless," ''a horrible mistake" and "a devastating lesson" for which he is "seeking guidance."

The statement from Pettit's parents is as follows:

"As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply. He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son's character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.

We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son – but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the – entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far  – as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.

We ask that the media and public please respect our family's privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps."

Rice grew up in Dallas and played football while at Jesuit Dallas. He said he withdrew from the university Monday.

A handful of protesters went to Rice's parents' home with signs Tuesday night, believing they should bear some responsibility.

"Most of the people that were on that bus who were chanting this, this is something they knew," said Mallory, a civil rights activist with the Next Generation Action Network and mother of three bi-racial children. "This is something that they had rehearsed. This was a song!"

Jesuit's president released a statement Tuesday acknowledging the connection to the Dallas school and said he was "appalled by the actions in the video."

"It is unconscionable and very sad that in 2015 we still live in a society where this type of bigotry and racism takes place," said Jesuit president Mike Earsing, adding that he was "extremely hurt by the pain this has caused our community."

The video posted online shows several people on a bus participating in a chant that included a racial slur, referenced lynching and indicated black students would never be admitted to OU's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

In an interview with FOX4 on Tuesday, Earsing said Rice was a good student while he was at Jesuit.

"Nice young man, but that doesn't excuse his behavior for what happened on the bus," Earsing said. "There's no excuse for that. It's appalling, it's unconscionable behavior to do that and to. And for people who are good people, we need to take a stand and say we're not going to allow that, period."

University of Oklahoma President David Boren said in a statement Tuesday the two students were dismissed for creating a "hostile learning environment for others."

Boren says he hopes the dismissal of the students will help students realize "it is wrong to use words to hurt, threaten, and exclude other people."

Boren severed ties with the fraternity on Monday and ordered its house shuttered.

A father of a SAE freshman on the now-infamous bus spoke with FOX4's Steve Eagar and said the song wasn't written by the pledges.

But he didn't excuse the actions of the young men.

"The point needs to be made they understood the difference between right and wrong. They knew it was a reprehensible song. It's not defensible. We can't say because we were taught this song by upper classmen it's okay. It's not," the father said.

The Next Generation Action Network says it plans to file a discrimination complaint against SAE with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The group claims it has found more than 100 cases of discrimination in its chapters across the country.

No one was home at Rice's parents' home nor Pettit's parents' home when FOX4 knocked on their doors Tuesday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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