Columbia Student Is Stabbed to Death Near Campus

on Dec4
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A graduate student at Columbia University died and another man was wounded after the two were stabbed in Upper Manhattan on Thursday night, the police and college officials said.

The student, Davide Giri, was traveling home from soccer practice just before 11 p.m. when he was stabbed in the abdomen about two blocks from his apartment building, the police and friends said. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The police arrested Vincent Pinkney, 25, of Manhattan, in the attacks and charged him on Friday with murder, attempted murder, assault, attempted assault and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon. He had been found in Central Park, and the police said that he had been menacing a third man with a knife.

In a campuswide letter sent on Friday morning, Lee C. Bollinger, the university’s president, identified Mr. Giri, 30, as a student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and expressed sadness over his death.

“This news is both unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus,” Mr. Bollinger wrote. “On behalf of the entire Columbia community, I send my deepest condolences to Davide’s family.”

Mr. Giri, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science who was expected to graduate in May, had begun working as a research assistant at Columbia around 2016, after studying at schools in Italy and Chicago, according to his personal website.

He had played soccer competitively for more than two decades, including with an international club in New York, and was also trained in classical piano.

“Davide was the nicest and brightest person on the team,” his soccer teammates wrote in a statement on Friday. “We love you, man, you were a rock in defense and we will play and win for you because this is what you wanted.”

In a statement on Twitter, Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, noted the proximity between the street where Mr. Giri was attacked and the section of Morningside Park a few blocks away where an 18-year-old student at Barnard College was fatally stabbed in 2019.

The student, Tessa Majors, died after three teenagers attacked her in an armed robbery. Her killing shocked students at the two abutting campuses and residents in the neighborhood.

Ms. Brewer said that she felt “profound sadness” at the death of Mr. Giri, “whose life was taken from us too soon.”

“Davide as I understand came to us from Italy,” she wrote. “His students nominated him successfully for a teaching award. His fellow students, dept. & university, and family must be devastated at his tragic death. I share in that grief & devastation.”

For Max Crownover, a student in Columbia’s post-baccalaureate pre-med program, the death of Ms. Majors — which occurred almost exactly two years ago — similarly cast a shadow over Mr. Giri’s killing.

“I was shocked but I wasn’t surprised — and that makes me angry,” Mr. Crownover, 23, said. “It’s not the first time that a violent act has occurred.”

He added: “The safety of Columbia students is at risk and it lies squarely on Columbia to take action, which I hope they do.”

School officials said on Friday afternoon that more safety patrols would be added to several streets off campus. Additional workers from the Parks and Police Departments would also be temporarily stationed in Morningside Park, officials said.

After Mr. Giri was attacked, the police said, his assailant traveled south and stabbed a tourist from Italy who is expected to survive.

The man, who is 27 and was spending his first day in New York, was struck in his torso near the northwest entrance to Central Park, several blocks from the initial stabbing.

The separate attacks, which the police said they believed were unprovoked, rattled the neighborhood.

As students and staff members entered the building on campus where Mr. Giri worked, and walked through other nearby areas, some said they had not yet heard of the attack.

But Jacob Solomon, a first-year Ph.D. student at Columbia, said he learned of Mr. Giri’s death as soon as he woke up on Friday. He said there was a sense of helplessness among some students, who feared falling victim to a similar random attack.

“It was just an unprovoked stabbing which is, I think, even more unsettling,” Mr. Solomon, 23, said.

Another student, Haswanth Venkatavijayan, said that he lives across the street from where Mr. Giri was stabbed and had walked there about a half-hour before it took place.

“I don’t know what would have happened if I had been here later,” Mr. Venkatavijayan, 22, said.

Nicole Alexander, a Morningside Heights resident, said that she walks by the intersection while traveling to work. She said that she had long been concerned about the area.

“It’s always a lot going on over here,” said Ms. Alexander, 51. “When I get home, I stay indoors, because I know how it is.”

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