A Yale University graduate student described by officials as someone who wanted to use his education to "improve the world" was found fatally shot near the New Haven, Connecticut, campus and police said they are investigating whether he was targeted.
New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes identified the slain student on Monday as 26-year-old Kevin Jiang of West Haven and asked for the public's help in identifying and capturing his killer.
Jiang was a former member of the Army National Guard and a second-year master's student at the Ivy League university's School of Environment.
“The Yale Community is grieving right now. This is the loss of an extraordinary young man. He was committed to applying his talents to improving the world," Yale President Peter Salovey said during Monday's news conference.
Reyes said police received numerous 911 calls at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and responded to the East Rock neighborhood several blocks northeast of the university, where they found Jiang suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He said Jiang was pronounced dead at the scene.
“We are looking into whether or not Mr. Jiang was actually targeted during this incident," Reyes said. "We have developed information suggesting that this incident may not have been an actual random act, that he, in fact, was targeted."
Reyes said police are also investigating if Jiang was shot following a road rage incident.
He said Jiang was operating a vehicle around the time of the shooting and that he was familiar with the area the homicide occurred in, but Reyes declined to say if Jiang was inside or outside his car when he was killed.
"We do believe that he was there for a purpose. We just can’t share that at this time," Reyes said, adding that the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Yale University Police Department are assisting in the investigation.
“We’re exploring every possibility, including whether or not there was an accident that precipitated this incident or whether or not it was road rage," Reyes said.
Salovey said that in addition to his studies, Jiang volunteered at a homeless shelter cooking and distributing food. He said Jiang was also conducting research on mercury levels in fish in the Quinnipiac River Watershed and helped manufacturers comply with local and federal environmental laws.
“Kevin gave so much to this community and we had worked together. We remember him fondly. We feel for his family, his fiancee and we express our condolences to them," Salovey said. "This is a tragedy that has hurt all of us. In the days ahead, I hope we can focus on each other's well being and support one another."
Jiang's death marks the sixth homicide in New Haven this year, police said. In 2020, New Haven recorded 122 shootings and 20 homicides, up from 77 shootings and 11 homicides in 2019, according to Reyes.