Columbia University

Sources: Stab Spree Suspect Who Killed Columbia Student, Hurt Tourist Tied to Earlier Attack

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

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Italian Columbia grad student who was killed in a stabbing on the Upper West Side was just on his way home when he was killed. NBC New York’s Marc Santia reports.

The 25-year-old man cops believe is responsible for randomly stabbing a Columbia University PhD candidate and a tourist near a New York City park late Thursday has been linked to a third stabbing about 12 hours earlier, law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the case tell News 4.

The Friday afternoon developments come as charges are still pending against the man who was apprehended just before midnight in Central Park while menacing a potential fourth victim, a 29-year-old man, with a large kitchen knife, police say.

The 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.

Less than 12 hours later, around 11 p.m., near 123rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue in the area of Morningside Park, the same suspect, who has an extensive criminal history, is accused of randomly stabbing a 30-year-old Columbia University PhD student and a 27-year-old tourist. The PhD student, identified as Davide Giri, died.

In a letter to engineering students, Columbia University wrote of its "tremendous grief" over the loss of Giri, a PhD candidate in computer science who was 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.

"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.

Police say their investigation is ongoing.

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