Who was Kevin Jiang? Yale student, 26, shot dead near college campus, MIT grad named person of interest

26-year-old Kevin Jiang was reportedly shot and killed while driving in New Haven. According to authorities, the shooter targeted Jiang and they are looking into whether he might have been involved in a car accident prior to the shooting.


                            Who was Kevin Jiang? Yale student, 26, shot dead near college campus, MIT grad named person of interest
Kevin Jiang was reportedly shot dead and killed and Qinxuan Pan is a suspect (Yale University/New Haven Police Department)

A Yale University graduate was shot to death Saturday night just blocks from the Ivy League college in Connecticut.

Kevin Jiang, 26, was reportedly shot and killed while driving in New Haven. According to authorities, the shooter targeted Jiang and they are looking into whether he might have been involved in a car accident prior to the shooting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Qinxuan Pan, 29, was identified by New Haven police as a person of interest in Jiang's death. In a statement shared on Facebook, the New Haven Police Department said Pan, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is considered "armed and dangerous".

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The US Marshals Service, who have joined the investigation, said on Thursday night that the suspect was spotted in Georgia earlier that day, driving with family in the Atlanta suburbs. According to the New York Times, Pan has been charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and interstate theft of a vehicle in connection with the killing of Jiang.

After attending St Therese Chinese Catholic School in Chinatown, Jiang graduated from Maine South High School in Park Ridge.

“He didn’t come from a whole lot, it was just him and his mom,” Eric Novak, one of his high school teachers, told the Sun-Times. “He worked after school in a telemarketing job and then went fishing after work and he would show us pictures and be like ‘This is what I caught and I made it for my mom for dinner.”

Novak recalled to the paper how a lot of students put in minimal effort in physical education but Jiang would return to class drenched in sweat. “There wasn’t a wasted second in his day. He always wanted to be something extraordinary. He was a self-made person, there’s no doubt about that. Whatever he did to earn his degrees, he definitely did it on his own because he was a smart, smart kid, for sure,” said Novak.

Jiang's family soon moved from Chicago to Washington state, and the high flying student went on to earn a degree in environmental studies from the University of Washington. At the time of his death, Jiang was a second-year student in the Masters program at Yale School of the Environment.

Described as a dedicated Christian, Jiang reportedly was engaged to his girlfriend less than a week before his demise. According to the Sun-Times, the two had met at a church retreat.

The newspaper further reported how Jiang was a veteran of the US Army, where he served as a tank operator. He was currently a member of the Connecticut National Guard and had recently been summoned to assist with Covid-19 relief efforts in the state, according to Yale. 

The Sun-Times also spoke to Mark Brunke, a youth pastor at the former Chinese Bible Church of Oak Park, where Jiang and his mother were members of the congregation.

“Kevin was always all-in on anything he did, he sort of dialed everything up to 11 whether it was sports or piano or whatever,” Brunke recalled to the paper.

“He didn’t have the perfect nuclear family and had some issues to overcome, a bit of a temper. But when he started coming to church, he really believed in God and Jesus and you could see him leaving his bad habits behind and becoming a kinder person.”

“God had turned his life around. I talked to him just before he proposed to his girlfriend — he was just over the moon about her," Brunke added.

Gabe Benoit, Jiang's academic adviser at Yale, showered praise on his former student in an online tribute shared by the university. “Looking back, in my 30 years of teaching, he’s the single most effective student I ever had. ... He was such a bright light to be extinguished so early," Benoit wrote.

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