LANSING, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- A 19-year-old Michigan State University student is recovering at home in Oakland County today after surgery overnight for a broken jaw his family says stems from a brutal hate crime.
Two men at a party early Sunday attacked Zachary Tennen, a journalism sophomore at MSU, after asking whether he was Jewish, his mother, Tina Tennen, said today.
They raised their arms in a Nazi salute, chanting "Heil Hitler" and then knocked Tennen unconscious, she said.
While he was out, the men stapled his mouth, putting a staple into his gum, she said.
Tennen said her son said no one at the party helped him as he was attacked then thrown out of the gathering. He took a cab to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing for initial treatment, but underwent surgery in metro Detroit overnight to have his jaw wired shut, his mother said.
"I'm really, really upset in a few ways," Zachary Tennen, said, according to the MSU student newspaper the State News. "First of all it is a terrible experience, physically and also mentally to know someone would do something like this," he said before his surgery, despite the difficulties for him to talk. "It almost seemed like they tried to kill me, and to think about that in my brain, physically - it isn't very pleasant."
The family has filed a report with East Lansing Police. MSU's Office of Marketing Communications today e-mailed a statement by Assistant Vice President for Media Communications Kent Cassella.
"Michigan State University's Student Affairs and Services office has reached out to the family of the student who said he was assaulted in East Lansing to provide the academic and other support the student needs," Cassella said. "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."
Police did not respond this morning to requests for information about the alleged incident.
Tina Tennen said the family doesn't know the identities of the two men."I hope that they get prosecuted, go to jail," Tina Tennen said. "You hear about it in the news, but I guess it's something that you think never will happen to you."
She said her son hopes to return to take classes at MSU in about a week.
"It's an awful hate crime, and what he's gone through emotionally and physically, it's scary to put it into words," Tina Tennen said, pausing from getting her son medicine as he recuperates at their home in Franklin. "Hopefully the worst is behind us. It's going to be hopefully not too rough."