Zachary Tennen, a 19-year-old sophomore at MSU, told police he was attacked over the weekend at a party by two men with shaved heads who claimed to be a part of the Ku Klux Klan. They allegedly knocked him out after Tennen admitted he was indeed Jewish, and stapled his mouth while he was unconscious. Tennen told reporters roughly 20 people at the party watched, but did not intervene or call police, as the men stapled his gums behind his bottom front teeth.
The Lansing State Journal reports the suspect questioned is an 18-year-old from Farmington Hills, Mich.
"We have a few more things, specifically some key witnesses to track down, prior to taking this to the Ingham County prosecutor's Office for review," East Lansing police Capt. Jeff Murphy told the State Journal. “We’re hoping to take it there this week."
Police expect charges to come shortly, the Detroit Free-Press reports.
East Lansing police said Tuesday they are not investigating the assault as a hate crime. They said they're still in the process of interviewing witnesses at the party who also do not believe it was a hate crime.
"It's just some difference of what these people saw," Murphy said. "They've got front-row seats to this whole thing. And he got assaulted and it never should have happened and it was a serious assault. But the big thing is people started putting out it was a hate crime, and nothing’s showing us it was a part of it."
However, Tennen insists he was attacked for simply being Jewish.
Tennen said moments before he was assaulted, the two men raised their arms in a Nazi salute and shouted "Heil Hitler."
Bruce Tennen, the victim's father, told the AP the conclusions by East Lansing police that it was not a hate crime "sicken us."
Police have not yet released the name of their suspect. The Free-Press reports:
Murphy said the suspect could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines if found guilty of aggravated assault, a minor misdemeanor that specifies the victim was seriously injured in an attack. He said the suspect will remain free as local prosecutors review the case later this week to determine specifically what charges to file.
The Anti-Defamation League has been in contact with authorities about the incident.
"We are horrified by this violent assault and allegations that the student may have been viciously attacked because he was Jewish," ADL Detroit Regional Director Betsy Kellman said in a statement.
Michigan Live reports the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, is calling for a federal investigation regarding the incident.
Tennen underwent jaw surgery earlier this week. A Facebook page has been started to show support for him.