This story has been updated.
Zachary Tennen, a 19-year-old Michigan State University student, was the victim of what some are categorizing a hate-crime following an attack at an off-campus party (police, though, are now saying that it was “not likely a hate crime,” but they are giving few details to corroborate that stance). Tennen, a resident of suburban Detroit, is telling media that his attackers, who broke his jaw and reportedly stapled his mouth shut at the lips and gums, asked if he was Jewish before assaulting him.
Zachary Tennen, a 19-year-old sophomore in MSU’s journalism program, was attending a house party early Sunday morning when two men approached him and asked if he was Jewish. After responding in the affirmative, the two men allegedly performed a Nazi salute and recited “Heil Hitler” before beating the young man unconscious.
CBS Detroit reports that 20 people witnessed the attack as the two assailants proceeded to staple Tennen’s mouth shut and broke his jaw.
“They knocked me down really hard … and I assumed someone would help me,” Tennen said in a statement. “But after some guys at the house basically kicked me out, I had to get a cab.”
Tina Tennen, the student’s mother, told the Detroit Free Press her son took a taxi to Sparrow Hospital in East Lansing for initial treatment, but underwent surgery in metro Detroit Monday night to have his jaw wired shut.
“It’s an awful hate crime, and what he’s gone through emotionally and physically, it’s scary to put it into words,” she explained. “Hopefully the worst is behind us. It’s going to be hopefully not too rough.”
While Tennen did admit to consuming “a small amount of alcohol,” he remembers the events that unfolded and has recounted them to media outlets. His father has expressed frustration that hospital officials didn’t report the incident to police, especially after purportedly learning about the assault directly from the young victim.
“It almost seemed like they tried to kill me, and to think about that in my brain, physically — it isn’t very pleasant,” Tennen told campus newspaper The State News.
Now, the student’s family is seeking the help of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group that tackles anti-Semitism. In a press release today, the organization responded.
“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. “We hope the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.”
Tennen is expected to return to MSU after a week of recovery.
TheBlaze’s Tiffany Gabbay contributed to this report.
(H/T: Jewish Forward)