Roadside shooting of Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang may have been targeted, say investigators

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Roadside shooting of Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang may have been targeted, say investigators

Police have said that evidence suggests the fatal shooting of a Yale graduate student was a targeted killing, and not a random road-rage attack as

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Police have said that evidence suggests the fatal shooting of a Yale graduate student was a targeted killing, and not a random road-rage attack as some initially believed.

Kevin Jiang, 26, a graduate student at the Yale School of the Environment, was found shot dead next to his rear-end damaged Prius at about 8.30pm on Saturday in New Haven, Connecticut.

‘We are looking into whether or not Mr. Jiang was actually targeted in this incident,’ New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said at a press conference on Monday.

‘We have developed information suggesting that this incident may actually not have been a random act, and that he in fact was targeted,’ the chief said. 

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Yale University graduate student Kevin Jiang, 26, was shot dead in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday night

A week ago, Jiang proposed marriage to his girlfriend

Yale University graduate student Kevin Jiang, 26 (left), was shot dead in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday night. A week ago, Jiang proposed marriage to his girlfriend (right) 

'We are looking into whether or not Mr. Jiang was actually targeted in this incident,' New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said at a press conference on Monday

‘We are looking into whether or not Mr. Jiang was actually targeted in this incident,’ New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said at a press conference on Monday

Police were initially looking at the possibility that Jiang was shot after a car crash, as his Prius had rear-end damage

Police were initially looking at the possibility that Jiang was shot after a car crash, as his Prius had rear-end damage

With the killer still at large, the tight-lipped chief did not offer much further information. 

But he did suggest that neighbors had seen interactions earlier in the day that shed light on the murder of Jiang, who had become engaged to be married just a week earlier.

‘Additional callers reported seeing much during that day – we do not want to give that information because the investigation is ongoing,’ Reyes said.

Chief Reyes said that it was ‘too early to establish any motive whatsoever.’   

New Haven police said 911 callers reported hearing at least seven gunshots at 8.30pm near the intersection of Lawrence and Nicoll streets in the East Rock neighborhood.

Responding officers found Jiang lying in the street and he was pronounced dead. The case is being investigated as a homicide. 

Jiang was a second-year student  at the Yale School of the Environment

Jiang was a second-year student  at the Yale School of the Environment

Police said 911 callers reported hearing at least seven gunshots at 8.30pm on Saturday near the intersection of Lawrence and Nicoll streets in New Haven

Police said 911 callers reported hearing at least seven gunshots at 8.30pm on Saturday near the intersection of Lawrence and Nicoll streets in New Haven 

The New Haven Independent reported that Jiang, who lived in West Haven, was found near his Prius, which had rear-end damage, raising the possibility that the shooting came after a car accident and was a targeted, rather than a random, act of violence.

A neighbor said she was in her living room when she heard two shots, followed by a pause, and then at least five more shots. 

‘When we finally looked outside, there was someone lying in the middle of Lawrence Street,’ she told the New Haven Register. 

As of Monday morning, no arrests have been made, but police were said to have leads on the gunman’s vehicle.  

Salovey, the Yale president, said his staff had been in touch with Jiang’s family. 

‘I wish to convey to them and to all others who loved Kevin my sincere condolences,’ Salovey said. ‘Kevin was an extraordinary young man.’

Just a week before his slaying, Jiang got engaged to his girlfriend of one year, fellow Yale graduate student Zion Perry. He posted a video on his Facebook page that captured the moment he went down on one knee and popped the question while the pair were on a hike. 

Jiang and his girlfriend, fellow Yale graduate student Zion Perry (right), had been dating for a year

Jiang and his girlfriend, fellow Yale graduate student Zion Perry (right), had been dating for a year 

On January 30, Jiang shared a video on his Facebook page, showing him popping the question to Perry while on a hike to celebrate their dating anniversary

He wrote: 'She said YES!'

On January 30, Jiang shared a video on his Facebook page, showing him popping the question to Perry while on a hike to celebrate their dating anniversary. He wrote: ‘She said YES!’

‘She said “YES!”; Jiang wrote ecstatically in a status update on January 30. ‘Zion sweetheart – you’ve really made a huge impact in my life! Ever since I met you, God has been working in my heart and changing my heart for the better, helping me become more generous and kinder to others . You are the most kind, beautiful, forgiving, patient, faithful woman I’ve ever met. I love you more than words can say.’

According to his LinkedIn profile, Jiang served as a tank operator in the US Army and was in the Army National Guard. 

The 26-year-old veteran earned a degree in environmental studies from the University of Washington before starting his graduate studies at Yale in 2019. He was a member of the Class of 2022. 

‘I know this tragedy comes during a year that has already been filled with so much sorrow,’ School of the Environment Dean Indy Burke wrote in a statement on Sunday. ‘Please know that we in our school stand ready to support you.’ 

Jiang served as a tank operator in the US Army and was in the Army National Guard

Jiang served as a tank operator in the US Army and was in the Army National Guard

After serving his country, Jiang earned a Bachelor's degree in environmental science from the University of Washington

Jiang in 2019 started his graduate studies at Yale

After serving his country and earning a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science from University of Washington, Jiang in 2019 started his graduate studies at Yale

Jiang, like his fiancee, was a devout Christian and an active member of a New Haven church

Jiang, like his fiancee, was a devout Christian and an active member of a New Haven church

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker addressed Jiang’s killing and other violent crimes that have been committed in the city, vowing to ‘be relentless in efforts to provide justice for all of the victims, their families and loved ones,’ reported Fox61. 

Jiang was a devout Christian and an active member of Trinity Baptist Church, where he had been volunteering his time every week for the past two years.  

‘Earlier this week, I had agreed to officiate Kevin’s wedding,’ Co-Pastor Greg Hendrickson wrote in a Facebook post. ‘Now, we will be officiating his funeral instead. As a community, we are grieving deeply right now. But Kevin lived by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

‘Above all he looked forward to Jesus’ promise of the resurrection from the dead. Though his earthly life was cut short, he used the time that he had on earth to the fullest. His example inspires us to do the same.’

 On his Facebook profile Jiang wrote: ‘Life is a gift that I am so thankful for.’ 

Jiang would have celebrated his 27th birthday this week. His death marks the sixth homicide in New Haven so far this year. 

Anyone with information about Jiang’s murder is urged to contact the anonymous New Haven Police tip line at 1-866-888-TIPS. 

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