East Lansing police: Michigan State student's beating likely not hate crime

By Roger Weber, Local 4 Reporter, @RogerWLocal4, rogerw@wdiv.com
Published On: Aug 30 2012 05:06:22 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 28 2012 03:03:28 PM EDT

A 19-year-old Michigan State University student and Metro Detroit native says he is the victim of a vicious and violent hate crime.

FRANKLIN, Mich. -

The East Lansing Police Department is not calling the beating of a 19-year-old Michigan State University student and Metro Detroit native a hate crime.

Zach Tennen, of Franklin, says he was beaten early Sunday morning at a party just off the East Lansing campus. His family is calling it a hate crime.

"Right below my bottom teeth in the middle it's cracked," Tennen said as he described his injuries.

Tennen's family has contacted the Anti-Defamation League because just before the assault, Tennen says, the attackers asked him if he is Jewish. He said yes.

"And they were making Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK," he said.

However, East Lansing police say after a preliminary investigation it appears the attack on Tennen likely is not a hate crime. Police say they have two witnesses and have identified a potential suspect who lives in the area. Their investigation is ongoing.

The 2011 Birmingham Groves High School graduate says he was knocked unconscious. When he woke up, he says, he found a staple in his mouth.

"It was coming up in my two bottom teeth and it started in my gum, so, somehow they managed to staple it," Tennen said.

Tennen said he had consumed a small amount of alcohol. He says his friends had left the party earlier. After the beating, others walked him away from the house and told him he was OK. He called a cab to take him to Lansing Sparrow Hospital.

Tennen's father says he is outraged that the hospital did not call police. Sparrow said that they do call law enforcement if they hear there is a victim of an assault.

East Lansing police did not return phone calls.

"I want everyone to know how severe this is. They could have killed me. I’m going to try my best to make sure they don’t get away with this," said Tennen.

He is scheduled to have a wire put into his broken jaw on Monday evening.

Michigan State's Student Affairs and Services released this statement:

"Michigan State University's Student Affairs and Services office has reached out to the family of the student assaulted in East Lansing to provide the academic and other support the student needs. MSU will work with the student and his professors to ensure he can fulfill his academic requirements, as we would with any student in need. As the incident occurred off campus in East Lansing, all questions about the police investigation need to go the East Lansing Police Department."

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