The Columbia University graduate student stabbed to death near the Manhattan campus Thursday night was a soccer-loving Italian native who had come to the US eight years ago to further his studies.
Davide Giri, 30, was knifed in the stomach in a random attack as he walked back to his Morningside Heights apartment after a soccer match with his team, NY International FC, NYPD sources and friends told The Post Friday.
Shocked neighbors and friends said Giri loved living in New York and described him as a “gifted student.”
With several university degrees already under his belt in Italy, Giri came to the US to study in 2013.
He settled in the Big Apple five years ago after obtaining a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Giri was a PhD candidate in computer science at Columbia when he was killed, according to his website.
“He was a quick learner and very curious. He was also a very warm and friendly person, always the soul of the party and ready to go out and have fun,” Giri’s longtime friend, Mattias Mengoni, told The Post on Friday.
The pair studied together in Italy and then Chicago before Giri moved to New York.
“He really liked New York,” Mengoni said of his late friend. “He found it welcoming and multicultural. He was very accepting of all people from all backgrounds and New York was giving that to him.”
Mengoni added that Giri had planned to remain in the Big Apple “at least for the time being.”
“He loved football, he was the No. 2 player for his team in New York,” Mengoni said, adding that Giri was a defensive specialist. “And in Chicago, he was the leader of our intramural team.”
A neighbor, who didn’t want to be named, told The Post Giri had just finished a soccer match when he was fatally stabbed walking through Morningside Park.
“We loved him and we are very shocked,” the neighbor said.
“We thought we lived in a safe place. We’re in one of the most advanced cities in the world and at 11 p.m. at night someone should be able to come home from soccer practice safely.”
Alex Starzyk, one of Giri’s other neighbors and a fellow Columbia student, was in shock over Giri’s death, saying, “I saw him all the time. He was always so nice.”
“He always held the elevator door for me any time he saw me carrying anything up or down the stairs,” Starzyk added.
“It’s so tragic for our intellectual community but also our apartment building. I go to the library all the time at 2 a.m. It’s a sanctuary. It’s devastating to think it’s unsafe.”
Columbia University president Lee Bollinger notified students of Giri’s death in an email first thing Friday.
“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,” Bollinger wrote.
“This news is both unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus.”
Vincent Pinkney, a 25-year-old gang member with a lengthy rap sheet, has been arrested over Giri’s fatal stabbing and another attack that left a 27-year-old tourist injured, authorities said.
The Manhattan man has 11 prior arrests dating back to 2012 for robberies and assaults, as well as other alleged crimes, police sources said. He is on post-release supervision until 2022.