(Reuters) - The death of a New York college student from brain trauma in a suspected fraternity hazing incident in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania in December was a homicide, a county coroner said on Saturday.
Chun “Michael” Deng, a freshman at Baruch College in Manhattan, died of injuries inflicted by one or more persons, the definition of homicide, said William Lisman, coroner of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
Further details would have to come from police, Lisman added.
Deng, 19, had traveled with about 30 people to Tunkhannock Township, Pennsylvania, about 75 miles from New York City, for the weekend and took part in a pledging ritual for the fraternity Pi Delta Psi, authorities said shortly after his December death.
E. David Christine Jr, district attorney for Monroe County, said in December that Deng “got tackled too many times” during a hazing incident and that criminal investigators were seeking the identities of people responsible for Deng’s injuries.
Pocono Mountain Regional Police have been investigating Deng’s death, but no one was available to comment about it on Saturday, a patrol shift supervisor said.
No one has yet been charged in connection with Deng’s death.
Deng was among four pledges involved in a fraternity ritual in someone’s yard and after getting injured, he was driven by friends to a hospital where he died on December 9, police said at the time.
Prosecutors initially gave Deng’s first name as Chen, but according to CNN, Baruch College listed him as Chun, the name used by other media organizations in reports this month.
A search warrant says items recovered during the investigation include fraternity clothing, two dozen cellphones, a number of laptop computers and pledge paddles, according to The Morning Call, an Allentown, Pennsylvania newspaper.
Deng was injured in Monroe County, but the hospital where he died is in Luzerne County, which makes Lisman responsible for ruling on the cause of death, he said.
Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Bernard Orr and G Crosse