New York City

Columbia PhD Student Killed in Random Knife Attack Identified; 2nd Victim in Hospital

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 Columbia University PhD candidate was stabbed to death and a tourist wounded near a New York City park late Thursday in what police say were random attacks.

The suspect was caught menacing a third victim with the kitchen knife used in the attacks, but that victim wasn't hurt, police say. That person, believed to be a 25-year-old man with an extensive criminal record, according to law enforcement sources, is in custody though no details about a possible motive were released.

Identified early Friday, though, was the victim who lost his life: Davide Giri.

In a letter to engineering students, Columbia University wrote of its "tremendous grief" over the loss of the 30-year-old PhD student in computer science who was stabbed in the rib cage with a kitchen knife as he walked in the area of Morningside Park, near 123rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, around 11 p.m. Thursday.

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.

"When we lose a member of our community, we are all affected. Regardless of whether you are near or far from campus, please remember that Columbia resources are always available to provide you or your friends with support," the letter Columbia sent to students read. "It is especially important at terrible times like these that we all reach out to each other.

"Please take care of yourself and those around you. We know that all of you join us in sending our deepest condolences to Davide's family and friends and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts in the days ahead," it continued.

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.

News 4 has learned the suspect in the case 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.

Charges in the Manhattan attacks are expected to be filed later Friday and police say their investigation is ongoing.

Two men were stabbed near a New York City park late Thursday in what police say were random attacks that killed one of the victims. NBC New York's Tracie Strahan reports.
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