Thirty Baruch College students could face a slew of criminal charges this week - ranging from hazing to homicide - related to the death of a fraternity pledge, a lawyer representing the victim’s family says.
Attorney Douglas Fierberg says police assure him charges are imminent in the death of Chun “Michael” Deng, 19.
“They have ruled that it is a homicide, and that now the only thing left is for charges to be filed,” Fierberg said.
Homicide charges in Pennsylvania range from involuntary manslaughter to premeditated murder.
Authorities say members of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity at the New York City-based college pushed Deng during a December hazing ritual while on a retreat in the Poconos, where he was blindfolded and wearing a backpack filled with 20 pounds of sand.
At one point he was shoved and fell over, hitting his head, police said.
“I can say it involved physical contact, which became very aggressive,” Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis said. “It also involved some pushing and shoving and hitting.”
After Deng lost consciousness, other fraternity members brought him into the house, but they never called 911 for help, police said. Instead they put him near the fire, changed his clothes and searched the Internet for information about his symptoms, police added.
After two hours, Deng was finally taken to a local hospital by three of the fraternity members where he died two days later, police said.
“There shouldn’t have been any delay. And yet there was, and afterward there was a cover-up,” family attorney Fierberg said.
Investigators reportedly say several frat members tried to hide their cellphones from police officers to keep authorities from seeing videos, photos and conversations about the hazing rituals.
Police also said about 20 of the 30 fraternity brothers in the house had left between the time Deng was injured and before police arrived to interview the remaining members.
Those interrogated had tried to hide any items or evidence that would link them to their fraternity after one of the members at the hospital with Deng called and warned them in advance, police chief Lewis said. They also initially denied but later admitted they had been carrying out a hazing ritual called a "glass ceiling" when Deng was injured.
The Asian and Asian-American cultural fraternity now has a lifetime ban at Baruch, where the disciplinary process is said to still be underway.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.