Kevin Jiang was a 26-year-old graduate student at Yale University and U.S. Army veteran who was killed in a shooting in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday, February 6, 2021, the university says. Jiang, a Seattle native who recently proposed to his girlfriend and penned a heartbreaking post about her on Facebook, was shot about 8:30 p.m. near Lawrence and Nicoll streets in the East Rock neighborhood of the city, New Haven Police said in a statement.
MIT researcher Qinxuan Pan is wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the shooting, the New Haven Police Department said on February 10.
Jiang served in the Army as a tank operator and was a member of the Army National Guard at the time of his death, he wrote on his LinkedIn page. He lived in West Haven and was studying environmental science at Yale, according to his Facebook profile. On Facebook, Jiang’s profile header reads, “Life is a gift that I am so thankful for.” Yale said his family has been notified of his death.
“My office has been in close contact with members of Kevin’s family. I wish to convey to them and to all others who loved Kevin my sincere condolences,” Yale University President Peter Salovey said in a message posted on the university’s website. “Kevin was an extraordinary young man; the School of the Environment will be holding a community gathering later today and will be planning additional remembrance events that will be posted on the school’s website.”
Salovey added, “The New Haven Police Department is treating this incident as a homicide and is actively working on apprehending the person or people responsible.”
Jiang Was Found Dead of Gunshot Wounds Near His Damaged Toyota Prius After Police Received Multiple 911 Calls of Shots Fired
New Haven Police responded to multiple 911 calls reporting shots fired about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night and found Jiang dead of gunshot wounds, according to a statement from department spokesperson Anthony Duff. The statement said, “The New Haven Police Department’s Major Crimes detectives are investigating the death as a homicide. Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Haven Police Department at 203-946-6304. Callers may remain anonymous.”
Jiang was found in the street near his Toyota Prius, which had rear-end damage, according to the New Haven Independent. Detectives are investigating whether a crash preceded the shooting, the news website reports. Neighbors told the New Haven Independent at least seven shots were fired. Police said they are following leads on the vehicle used by the shooter or shooters, the news site reports.
A neighbor told the New Haven Register she heard two shots, a pause, and then five or so more shots. The woman, who was not named by the newspaper, said, “We were scared to go near the window. When we finally looked outside, there was someone lying in the middle of Lawrence Street.”
Emma Zang, an associate professor at Yale’s Department of Sociology, wrote on Twitter, “Last night around 9pm, we heard a couple of gunshots at home. About half an hour later, we went out to walk our dog and saw there were a lot of police cars about two blocks away from our home. Today we got to know that a Yale student Kevin Jiang was shot and killed there.”
Zang added, “I’m in shock right now and feel so sad. I cannot imagine the pain his parents are facing. Our neighborhood was considered the safest neighborhood in New Haven, with a lot of Yale faculty and students living here.”
Salovey said in a message to the community, “Mayor Justin Elicker and I have been in touch with each other throughout the night. I have asked Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins to update you later today on the investigation and measures we and the city are taking to protect the members of our shared community. We will continue to focus on the security and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and neighbors.”
Elicker told the New Haven Independent he went to the scene of the shooting. “I’ve been to the wakes of most of the people that have died, victims of gun violence. There’s so much pain in the community,” Elicker, a Yale graduate who has been in office for a year, told the news site. “I’m sure that this will be a very, very difficult time for many of the students and staff and faculty at the school. I think that, too often, violence feels distant from some people. This is a reminder that we’re all connected.”
Jiang & His Girlfriend Were Engaged in January & He Wrote on Facebook, ‘I Can’t Wait to Care for You & Serve You & Build God’s Kingdom With You’
Jiang shared the news of his engagement to his girlfriend in a Facebook post on January 30. They had been dating for a year before he proposed and she said yes. Jiang wrote, “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.”
Jiang added, “You are the most kind, beautiful, forgiving, patient, faithful woman I’ve ever met. I love you more than words can say. I want to care for you and serve you, and build God’s kingdom with you. Thank you for such a wonderful happy one-year anniversary of meeting, and now fiancé!!!!!!!!”
In a post on her page, Jiang’s fiancee wrote, “Praise the Lord for this very special day where I got ENGAGED to my best friend!! Thank you Kevin for being my iron and sharpening me to be more righteous, pure, and holy! Though we stand as two broken people, what a beautiful setting of snow to remind us of God’s salvation and the sanctifying gift of marriage.”
She added, “We met exactly one year ago on January 30, 2020. Little did we know how God would grow such a deep and lasting friendship over that next year! I’m so excited to be your partner here on Earth, Kevin!!!”
In a June post, he wrote about his fiancee, “To the most beautiful, kind, and compassionate woman in the world, thank you for coming in my life! You lead me towards Christ and make me a better person. I am so touched by your love everyday and how you always pray for me, look out for me, and respect me. I cherish you, value you, and love you so much! My darling angel from heaven,”
Jiang Studied at North Seattle College & the University of Washington & Served in the Army for 7 Years Before Coming to Yale in 2019
Jiang previously studied environmental sciences at North Seattle College and ecology and biology at the University of Washington, according to his Facebook profile. On LinkedIn, Jiang said he was serving in the Army National Guard as an environmental scientist and engineering officer. He was previously a tank operator. Jiang began serving in the Army in 2012.
In 2019, he attended Army officer candidate training, according to photos he posted on his Facebook profile. He wrote about his future in the military and academically in a February 2019 Facebook post.
“Dear friends, I am INCREDIBLY humbled and blessed to have been accepted to YALE for my Master’s of Environmental Science program starting this Autumn 2019. Additionally, I will be commissioning as an Officer in the United States Army this summer! It is an absolute honor to be able to care for the well-being of my soldiers and to serve them. I couldn’t have done this without my God, my parents, Professor Warren Gold, and my friends,” Jiang wrote. “Thank you all for being a part of my life, and a positive influence in helping me become the man I am today. I promise I will never stop growing and helping to make a positive change in other people’s lives.”
While living in Seattle, Jiang worked as a realtor, personal trainer and as a chemist. He wrote in a November 2017 Facebook post, “This Thanksgiving season, I am so blessed beyond measure. From working as a Chemist at Seattle Genetics in the fight against cancer, to being able to help clients at my gym lose weight as a personal trainer, to being able to serve my country as a soldier. I have so much to be thankful for and I’ve learned so much.”
Jiang was also a musician, posting videos showing him playing the piano and performing during church services.
Jiang was set to finish graduate school at Yale in 2021, and was going to turn 27 on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The university is planning virtual events to mourn his death.
Ingrid Burke, the dean of the Yale School of the Environment, wrote in a message on the school’s website, “I know this tragedy comes during a year that has already been filled with so much sorrow. Please know that we in our School stand ready to support you. I am so sorry that this is coming at a time that we cannot gather in person to console each other, but we have scheduled an informal virtual community gathering this afternoon at 3 p.m. via Zoom. This gathering will allow us to listen, grieve, and simply be together during this terribly difficult time”
Jiang Wrote on Instagram About His Religious Beliefs & Military Service & Included in His Bio, ‘I Love Jesus & People’ & ‘For God & Country’
Jiang often posted on social media about volunteer work, his life in the church and his service in the military. On Instagram, his bio read, “I love Jesus and people ✝️ Yale Grad Student 🏫 Real Estate Investor 🏠 For God and country 🇺🇸”
He wrote on Facebook in February 2020, “Spent my birthday in Boston worshipping the Lord with these great people. Thank you to all my friends for the birthday wishes. I’m so lucky to have all of you in my life. Very grateful and humbled. God has been so good to me!”
Jiang’s mother moved from Washington state to Connecticut to live with her son when he began graduate school at Yale, according to the New Haven Independent. They were both volunteers at Trinity Baptist Church in New Haven, the news website reports. Kirsten Welker, who is the fellowship coordinator at the church, told the New Haven Independent, “He was cheerful, energetic, joyful. He was loving life.”
READ NEXT: Slain FBI Agent Remembered for Her Heroism