An MIT researcher considered “armed and dangerous” has been named as a person of interest in the murder of Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang.
The New Haven Police Department on Wednesday said they are searching for 29-year-old Qinxuan Pan, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a researcher at the elite school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), in relation to the fatal shooting of Jiang on Saturday.
Police say Pan—who was last seen at the Best Western hotel in North Haven—should be considered armed and dangerous. The Shanghai native also has a warrant out for his arrest for allegedly stealing a car.
“We are not prepared to identify him as the shooter,” New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said Wednesday. “Extreme caution should be used if you come into contact with this individual. We believe that he is outside of the state.”
Police say Jiang, a 26-year-old student at Yale’s School of the Environment, was shot multiple times on Saturday evening on a street in New Haven. Pan “was in the vicinity” of the shooting, the New Haven Independent reported.
Jiang was pronounced dead at the scene near his Toyota Prius, which had sustained read-end damage. The medical examiner later concluded Jiang’s cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head, neck, torso, and several extremities.
While authorities on Wednesday declined to comment on whether Jiang and Pan previously knew one another, Reyes did admit that police had questioned Pan briefly at the Best Western Hotel after receiving a call about a man acting oddly. Shortly after, Pan fled.
During a Monday press conference, Reyes said investigators believe Jiang’s slaying wasn’t an act of random violence—and are looking into whether he was targeted.
“We are looking into whether or not Mr. Jiang was targeted,” Reyes said. “We have developed information that the incident may not have been a random act, that he was in effect targeted … This was not a drive-by. This was much more up close.”
Jiang, a second-year master’s student at Yale and a Chicago resident, enrolled at the Ivy League university after spending two years “in environmental consulting, helping food and steel manufacturers comply with local and federal environmental regulations,” the school said in a statement. He was also an Army veteran, having served as a tank operator and as a chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear officer. The 26-year-old was also a member of the Army National Guard.
A Facebook profile that appeared to belong to Jiang shows the Yale student proposed to his 22-year-old girlfriend, Zion Perry, on Jan. 30. Perry, who is a Yale biophysics doctoral student, told the New Haven Independent she bonded with Jiang over their shared dedication to the Christian faith.
“This is a difficult loss for our community, and the coming days, weeks, and months will be challenging as we grieve together,” School of the Environment Dean Indy Burke said in a statement.