A 30-year-old doctoral student at Columbia University was killed on Thursday night, and an Italian tourist was injured, after a man went on a random stabbing rampage in New York City.
The suspect, an alleged 25-year-old gang member, was nabbed by the NYPD in Central Park after allegedly threatening a third man with a large kitchen knife, police said.
“I write with great sorrow to share the tragic news that Davide Giri, a graduate student at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, was killed in a violent attack near campus on Thursday night,” Columbia University President Lee Bollinger wrote in an email to students.
On Giri’s personal website, he described himself as a Ph.D candidate in computer science who had studied at universities in Italy, China, Chicago, and New York. He had authored several journal articles, and described his research interests as “architectures and system-level design methodologies for heterogeneous system-on-chip, with particular focus on hardware accelerators.”
His resume mentions a love of classical piano and soccer, and says he volunteered leading summer camps for many years.
About 10 minutes later, police received another call about a 27-year-old man being stabbed in the torso in the same park. The victim, identified by the New York Daily News as Italian tourist Robert Malastina, was rushed to the hospital and was in stable condition on Friday.
A Columbia student who witnessed that attack recalled seeing the suspect run up behind Malastina and start stabbing him in the back and chest, as Malastina cried out, “Why? Why? Help me!”
The suspect “was ecstatic” as he repeatedly plunged the knife into his unsuspecting victim, the witness told the Daily News.
The third victim, a 29-year-old man, was walking near his girlfriend near Central Park when the suspect tried to stab him, but he reportedly fled after getting into a verbal fight with the 29-year-old.
As cops were searching the area, they came across a 25-year-old man fitting the suspect’s description and took him into custody.
Police sources local outlets that the man is a suspected member of the EVK “Everybody Killas” gang who is out on parole after a 2013 gang-related assault.
The motive for the frenzied rampage remains unclear.
“This news is both unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus,” Bollinger said in his email to students.
Almost two years ago to the day, 18-year-old Barnard College student Tessa Majors was fatally stabbed by a group of teens in Morningside Park who tried to steal her phone.