Some fraternity members left the scene of a fatal hazing ritual before police arrived, and now authorities are appealing for them to come forward.
"We are looking for the truth. The family deserves that. We are asking people to do the right thing," Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis told NBC News on Thursday.
No one has yet been charged in the death of Chun Hsien "Michael" Deng, 19, who suffered "closed head injuries due to blunt force trauma," the coroner's office said Friday.
"The district attorney has said that charges are very likely and I would agree with that," Lewis said.
Deng, a freshman at New York City's Baruch College, was fatally injured while at a rented home in the Poconos with at least 20 members of Pi Delta Psi over the weekend.
Police say he and other pledges had to run a gauntlet — blindfolded and carrying bags weighted with sand — while they were pushed, shoved and repeatedly knocked to the ground.
Deng fell and hit his head and was knocked out, but his frat brothers did not immediately call for help. Instead, they took him into the house, put him by the fire, changed his clothes and Googled his symptoms, police said in a search warrant.
It was an hour or more before they drove the unresponsive victim to a hospital, where he doctors put him on life support, authorities said. Deng, who graduated from the elite Bronx High School of Science, died Monday morning.
Deng's schoolmates initially told police he was injured while horsing around outside and tried to hide the fact it was a fraternity gathering, court documents show.
Baruch College in Manhattan is part of the City University of New York.
"They were evasive," Lewis said.
It's not clear how many fraternity members headed back to Manhattan before police could interview them.
The national Pi Delta Psi said Thursday that the activity described by police and prosecutors was banned.
"Our early understanding is that this incident occurred at an unsanctioned event that was strictly prohibited by our organization," Andy Meng, national president of the fraternity, said in a statement.
"As a result of this incident we are immediately suspending all new member education nationwide until further notice."
Baruch College, part of the City University of New York, said the pledging event was "unsanctioned" and that the school has a "zero-tolerance policy" for hazing.
"Baruch College had no knowledge of this event or that the fraternity was rushing a pledge class," it said in a statement. "Pi Delta Psi did not request permission nor were they approved by Baruch on this matter.
"Michael’s death is a deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be put into a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy."
Prosecutors have said that they will wait until the conclusion of the police investigation to determine what charges will be filed.
"Police are still going through the connect-the-dot phases of this investigation," Monroe County District Attorney David Christine told The Associated Press, but "there will be criminal charges filed."
New York college freshman dies in fraternity pledge ritual: Prosecutors
First published December 12 2013, 6:32 PM