The East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, announced Wednesday that it has a suspect in the case of an assault on journalism sophomore Zachary Tennen as disagreement continues to build about whether or not the incident at a party Sunday morning was the result of a hate crime.
The ELPD said it has “many witnesses” from the party who have come forward.
Capt. Jeff Murphy of the ELPD said they have two witnesses who saw the assault take place, in addition to other witnesses who were at the party with Tennen in the 500 block of Spartan Avenue.
Murphy added the assault still likely is not a hate crime.
He identified the suspect from the assault as an 18-year-old male from Farmington Hills, Mich., who was visiting East Lansing for Welcome Week.
The suspect is not an MSU student, and police are waiting to make the arrest until they speak with more witnesses, Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Bruce Tennen, Zachary’s father, said his family is taking steps to connect with an attorney regarding his son’s assault.
“We are in the process of engaging a high-profile governmental attorney,” Bruce Tennen said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s my hope that the assailants will be apprehended soon by the East Lansing Police Department, brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent under applicable state and federal criminal laws.”
International relations senior Alex Waldman, president of the Jewish Student Union, said he is aware of the incident through media coverage and releases from police, and he thinks, whether it was a hate crime or not, students should learn from the assault’s occurrence.
He hopes the assault will motivate the MSU community to reconsider the presence of hate in East Lansing.
“Fights should not be breaking out on our campus, (and) we should be getting along with each other in a civil way,” Waldman said.
“Regardless of what the outcome of this incident is, this is an opportunity for our campus to evaluate hate toward groups, whether it’s cultural, racial or religious; hate is always there, and (for) students our age, as young adults, it is our responsibility to eliminate that.”
Waldman added he commends witnesses who, according to the ELPD in a previous interview, brought Tennen frozen vegetables to put on his face and got him to a cab.
“I will say that, if students did go out of their way to help, such as the statements made by the witnesses, then that should not be discounted whatsoever,” Waldman said.
“However, when (people) are at a party with that many people, this kind of thing should not have happened at all. “