The Day – Slaying of a Yale student becomes national news

NEW HAVEN – At 8:30 p.m. on February 6, New Haven recorded its sixth murder of the year when Kevin Jiang was shot dead on Lawrence Street.

Unlike the previous five murders, the crime made national headlines because Jiang was a student from Yale. It’s a fact that has received a level of attention that the other murders did not.

Mayor Justin Elicker said that while Jiang’s assassination drew most of the media attention, “It is important that we underline the loss of other members of our community as well as this tragedy, and all of these losses are affecting the city and with it the university. “”

Alfreda Youmans, Jeffery Dotson, Jorge Osorio-Caballero, Marquis Winfrey and Joseph Mattei were shot dead in the city this year. None of their murders have been solved, according to New Haven Police. Angel Rodriguez was found dead on February 15 in the area of ​​Farnum Drive and Orange Street. His death was rated as manslaughter.

20 people were killed in the city in 2020, most since 2013, but the first murder did not occur until February 24, when 18-year-old Dashown Myers was murdered.

John DeStefano Jr., who was New Haven Mayor when two Yale students were killed, said it was important to remember that any life lost to violence is tragic.

Nearly 300 people were killed in New Haven during DeStefano’s tenure as mayor between 1994 and 2014, he said.

“It’s horrible when you think about it,” he said.

Crime on college campuses is attracting a lot of attention, although experts say urban college campuses don’t have higher crime rates.

“It is believed that college students, or graduates, will live idyllic lives, safe, harmless, and safe from mortal danger,” said Rich Hanley, associate professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University. “And if a student is murdered or a victim of violence, it comes as a surprise because of the college’s mythology as a safe place.”

Add to this Yale’s status as a world class university. “It gets attention because of that name … with a national, global reputation where bad things shouldn’t happen, but they do,” Hanley said.

Jiang’s death was made worse because he became engaged to Yale graduate student Zion Perry a week before his death and he was shot and killed near her home in the Goatville neighborhood, part of the East Rock section rather than an area high Crime.

Perry graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in biotechnology. While no one was charged with Jiang’s shooting, another MIT student, Qinxuan Pan, a graduate student studying artificial intelligence and advanced computing, is at large as an interested person.

The police did not say anything about a possible motive for Jiang’s murder.

Rare occurrence

Yale sophomore, Christian Prince, also made national headlines on February 17, 1991 when he was shot dead outside St. Mary Church on Hillhouse Avenue, apparently the victim of a botched robbery. He was the first Yale student to be killed since Gary Stein in 1974.

Senior Suzanne Jovin was stabbed to death in the East Rock neighborhood on December 4, 1998; Her murder was not resolved. Annie Le was strangled on September 8, 2009 in a research building near Yale Medical School. An animal laboratory technician, Raymond Clark III, has been convicted of her murder and is in prison.

The perception of such high-profile instances depicting New Haven as dangerous can transcend reality.

“Urban campuses don’t have higher crime rates,” said Northeastern University in Boston Professor James Alan Fox, who has written about crime on college campuses. Because they are in urban environments, universities typically have strong security forces, police departments, or both, like Yale.

In 2019, out of 573 colleges and universities that reported their crime statistics to the FBI, there were seven murders out of 2,900 violent crimes, Fox said. This corresponds to 1,236 rapes, 425 robberies and 1,233 serious assaults, a total of around five violent crimes per school.

And students attending college in a city are more likely to be more aware of potential risks. “In most urban locations, students realize there is risk, while when students go to a rural campus they expect it to be a crime-free, idyllic area,” said Fox.

John DeCarlo, director of the masters program in criminal justice at the University of New Haven and former Branford police chief, said the best universities are often found in cities. Brown, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania are also urban Ivy League schools.

“The intellectual elite who attend such schools have little choice in where to go,” he said. He said it is important for colleges to educate students about the risks, but also reassure them that they are unlikely to become victims of violent crime. “When there is crime or fear of crime … it is wise to go forward and communicate openly,” he said.

Challenging perception

For Elicker, the security of Yale and the city as a whole are intertwined.

“I worry about New Haven and I focus on the city. Of course, a prosperous city, a safe city, benefits Yale as well,” he said. Elicker earned a masters degree from Yale School of Management, now the School of the Environment, where Jiang studied.

“By and large, New Haven is a safe city. We must also be aware of our challenges last year and our increasing violence today,” said Elicker. “We have to work together to address this.

“Yale is involved in all aspects of city life, so of course the university has an important role to play in what it means to be a safe city,” he said. “We shouldn’t avoid talking about how New Haven is fighting … to get enough money for social services, the new (prison) re-entry center we just opened. [for] enough cops. “

DeStefano said that while Jiang’s murder will weigh on Yale students, faculty, and employees as well as New Haven residents, “if someone is killed, it will” harm our own children and our city. “

Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins said he believed the university and the city had strong collaboration. In an email he wrote, “Yale loves New Haven: our city is part of who we are. We pride ourselves on our community and consider public safety a matter of lasting partnership.”

He said Yale’s public safety efforts, including conversations with Elicker, “have significantly reduced campus crime and helped improve the quality of life for Yale and the wider New Haven community.”

New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes has emphasized the close cooperation between his department and the Yale department as the investigation into Jiang’s murder continues.

Abigail Boyer is the assistant director of the Clery Center, which helps colleges and universities comply with the Jeanne Clery Act. Every college and university that receives federal funds must annually report the crimes committed both on and off campus. However, it is also recommended that you “put in place the guidelines that will help support campus security,” she said.

Jeanne Clery, a freshman at Lehigh University, was raped and murdered in 1986.

“The Clery Act itself really serves as a model” for how the university community is educated about safety and how it can be upheld, Boyer said. “It is not limited to just reporting to public safety or law enforcement, but also officers who have significant responsibility for students and campus activities.”

It’s important to read not only the statistics reported, but the university’s prevention efforts, she said.

If a college is really doing the job of communicating that it’s safe to report an incident, their stats may actually be higher because students are ready to come forward, Boyer said. Sexual assault, for example, is often underreported, she said.

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