A New York college student’s death in December from brain trauma in a case of suspected hazing by a fraternity has been ruled a homicide.
Chen “Michael” Deng, a freshman at Manhattan’s Baruch College, died of injuries inflicted by more than one person, said Coroner William Lisman, of Luzurne County, Pennsylvania, according to Reuters.
Deng, 19, joined 30 people on a trip to Tunkhannock Township, Pa., about 75 miles from New York, one weekend in December and took part in a pledging ritual for fraternity Pi Delta Psi, authorities said after his death.
At some point during the time in Pennsylvania, Deng ran a gauntlet blindfolded and with a heavy weight on his back, District Attorney David Christine said at the time, in a ritual that fraternity members apparently called Glass Ceiling. Deng was apparently knocked unconscious and carried inside the house, where he remained for some time before fraternity members drove him to an emergency room in Wilkes-Barre, about 30 miles away, a statement on the DA’s website said.
The Baruch College freshman died Dec. 6, one day after friends brought him to the hospital unconscious and in critical condition with major brain trauma.
Deng "got tackled too many times" during a hazing incident and criminal investigators were seeking the identities of people responsible for Deng's injuries, Christine said, according to Reuters.
Pocono Mountain Regional Police have been investigating Deng's death. No one has been charged in connection with Deng's death.
“They’ve done this before, rented a place before in the Poconos,” Christine said in December, calling it a “preplanned event where they rent a house, and plan a pledging ritual.”
Pocono Mountain Regional Police said in an affidavit that they recovered suspected marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms after executing a search warrant at the house, along with a photocopied document related to moral problems with torture.
They also recovered pledge paddles, frat sweatshirts, computers, backpacks and clothing at the home and in the vehicles driven by fraternity members. The cryptic document on torture was not explained further.
Christine told The Associated Press that criminal charges are coming, but he won’t decide on which charges to file, or against whom, until a police probe into the death is completed.
Baruch has suspended all of the fraternity’s rights and privileges at the school, and school officials have been in touch with Deng’s family in New York City as they make plans to claim his remains.
"Baruch College supports the ongoing efforts of Monroe County law enforcement to hold responsible those involved in the tragic death of Baruch student Michael Deng; a deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be placed in a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy," the college said in a statement Friday, according to MyFoxNY.com. "Along with its own internal review, which is ongoing, Baruch is continuing to cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities as this matter is investigated."
Deng graduated last year from the Bronx High School of Science, one of the city’s best public schools, where only top students are accepted. There, he excelled in both academics and sports. Deng was a champion bowler and played on the handball team. At Baruch, he majored in finance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.