Witnesses tell East Lansing Police Department they helped victim following assault, could not confirm use of staples


Update, 5:45p.m.: Two witnesses connected with the assault in the 500 block of Spartan Avenue told the East Lansing Police Department they helped journalism sophomore Zachary Tennen after he was attacked and could not say whether staples were used.

Capt. Jeff Murphy of the ELPD said the two witnesses said they saw an assault occur in the driveway of the house while at the same time, a party was going on in the backyard.

Although the witnesses watched one of the two alleged perpetuators punch Tennen, the witnesses did not hear or see anything that could be construed as a hate crime, Murphy said.

“They didn’t see Nazi or Hitler gestures,” Murphy said.

In addition, the witnesses could not confirm whether staples were involved in the incident.

Tennen previously told The State News he had to get a cab to the hospital. The witnesses told police they put frozen vegetables on Tennen’s face and put him in a cab which was sent to the hospital.

At this time, police have identified a potential suspect, who is from the Detroit area. They are searching for another man who might be connected to the incident, Murphy said.

“We just need a lot more to it before it comes to the level of a hate crime,” he said. “If this rises to the level of a hate crime as this goes on, rest assured, we will get the person charged.”

In a previous interview, upon hearing news the ELPD said the incident likely is not a hate crime, Tennen’s father, Bruce Tennen, said he absolutely believes Zach Tennen was singled out for religious reasons.

Keep checking statenews.com and Wednesday’s edition of The State News for more on this story.

Update, 3:05 p.m.: The East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, Tuesday afternoon announced that after a preliminary investigation of the case concerning an reported assault on Zachary Tennen, the incident likely was not a hate crime.

The ELPD located two witnesses and has identified a potential suspect who does not live in the area, according to the release.

A request for comment from the department went unreturned Tuesday afternoon.

Although the ELPD suspects the assault on Tennen likely was not a hate crime, Zachary’s father Bruce Tennen, said he has no idea why police would come to that conclusion.

He said he believes it absolutely was a hate crime.

The East Lansing Police Department confirmed Tuesday morning it is investigating a reported assault that took place Sunday involving journalism sophomore Zachary Tennen, a Jewish student who said he had his mouth stapled shut by assailants as part of an alleged anti-Semitic hate crime.

At about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Tennen was at a party in the 500 block of Spartan Avenue when he was approached by two college-aged males. After being asked if he were Jewish and answering yes, he was knocked unconscious by assailants as they repeatedly made Nazi and Hitler gestures at him, Tennen said in a statement.

The men told him they were members of the KKK, he said in the statement.

The assailants allegedly stapled his mouth and gums shut while he was unconscious, and about 20 people watched, he said. When Tennen awoke, he was ushered out of the home by people at the party, and he caught a cab to the hospital, he said.

Capt. Jeff Murphy of the East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, said no police or ambulances were called to the scene of the party early Sunday morning, and it was not until later during the day Sunday that the ELPD was notified of the incident.

“We need to know about the incident as soon as it happens,” Murphy said. “Now we’re working backwards on (this case).”

The ELPD currently has no suspects — whether MSU students or not, and the investigation is ongoing, he said.

Murphy said the ELPD encourages anyone with information relating to the incident or witnesses from the party to contact police.

Keep checking statenews.com and Wednesday’s edition of The State News for more on this story.

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