Columbia University

‘Brilliant' Columbia Student Killed in NYC Stabbing Spree Remembered at Candlelight Vigil

A Columbia student and a tourist were stabbed near Morningside Park in what NYPD says were random attacks -- and the suspect in custody was caught while menacing a third victim with the kitchen knife, cops say

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A somber community gathering marked the tragic death of the Columbia University student while his accused killer, a gang member out on parole, sat in custody 12 blocks downtown awaiting charges for murder.

Hundreds of mourners from the college community attended a candlelight vigil on Butler Lawn for PhD student Davide Giri late Friday, remembering the spark of a talented young academic with a promising future.

"He was young and he was deprived of his life and taken from us by an act of unfathomable inhumanity," Columbia University President Lee Bollinger told the crowd, calling Giri "a brilliant doctoral student in an exiting field on his way to an incredible career."

A PhD candidate in computer science, Giri had been walking home from a soccer practice around 11 p.m. Thursday in the area of Morningside Park in upper Manhattan when he was fatally stabbed in the rib cage with a kitchen knife, authorities said.

According to Columbia, Giri worked on architectures and system-level design methodologies for heterogeneous system-on-chip, with a particular focus on hardware accelerators. He won Columbia's Andrew P. Kosoresow Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service in 2018, the university said.

Giri earned his masters in philosophy in computer science from Columbia in 2020 and his MSc, the standard masters qualification for taught courses in science and technology subjects, in electrical and computer engineering from Chicago's University of Illinois in 2015. He has also earned degrees in Shanghai and Italy and co-authored a number of publications, according to his Columbia University bio.

NYPD officers investigating Giri's stabbing came across a second victim, a 27-year-old tourist who was stabbed in the stomach near West 110th Street and Cathedral Parkway. That tourist was able to give authorities a description of the suspect -- and the suspect was apprehended within Central Park as he menaced yet another potential victim, a 29-year-old man, with a large kitchen knife, police said.

The 29-year-old wasn't hurt and the tourist is expected to be OK.

Law enforcement officials Friday afternoon were able to link the suspect, identified as Vincent Pinkney, to a third stabbing about 24 hours before Giri's attack.

That initial attack was reported around 12:30 a.m. Thursday -- again with a knife and near Cathedral Parkway and Manhattan Avenue, law enforcement sources said. A witness said the suspect stabbed his friend in the neck and ran off. The friend was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the sources said.

Police walked the 25-year-old suspect out of the 26th Precinct late Friday following charges of murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. He refused to answer questions as he was escorted into a police vehicle.

News 4 has learned Pinkney has five prior arrests, including on charges of conspiracy, assault with intent to cause physical injury and gang assault. He is currently on parole in connection with a gang assault robbery and has no history of emotional disturbances, law enforcement sources say.

A Columbia grad student was killed during a stabbing spree which injured several others. NBC New York's Myles Miller reports.
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