An MIT researcher accused in the February murder of Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang has been arrested after spending months on the lam, authorities said Friday.
Qinxuan Pan, a 29-year-old who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a researcher at the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), was finally tracked down in Alabama, according to the Massachusetts State Police.
The arrest ends a months-long search for Pan, who was named a person of interest in Jiang’s murder on Feb. 19, just four days after the grad student was fatally shot multiple times on a street in New Haven, Connecticut. Later that month, on Feb. 26, officials secured an arrest warrant for the Shanghai native, spurring an international manhunt that included a “red notice” through Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization. The arrest warrant charged Pan with murder and second-degree larceny.
“We are pleased to announce this morning, the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals Middle District of Alabama and the Montgomery Police Department, arrested Fugitive Qinxuan Pan,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a Friday statement.
The New Haven Police Department said Jiang, a 26-year-old student at Yale’s School of the Environment, was shot multiple times on the evening of Feb. 6 on a New Haven street. Pan “was in the vicinity” of the shooting.
Jiang was pronounced dead at the scene near his Toyota Prius, which had sustained rear-end damage, police said. The medical examiner later ruled that Jiang’s cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head, neck, torso, and several extremities.
Shortly after the crime, police briefly questioned Pan at a Best Western Hotel in New Haven after receiving a call about a man acting oddly. Afterward, Pan fled.
“Kevin’s life was short but colorful, and brought so much joy, happiness, and positivity to those around him,” Linda Liu, his mother, said at this funeral on Feb. 13. “As a mother, I will always miss Kevin, and treasure the blessings he brought me. Although Kevin is gone from us now, Kevin is the most wonderful gift God has ever given me on Earth. I look forward to being reunited with Kevin in heaven in the future.”
Jiang 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. The second-year master’s student was also an Army veteran, having served as a tank operator and as a chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear officer. He was also a member of the Army National Guard and a Chicago native.
A Facebook profile that appeared to belong to Jiang shows that he had proposed to his 22-year-old girlfriend, Zion Perry, just days before his murder. Perry, a Yale biophysics doctoral student, told the New Haven Independent after Jiang’s murder that she bonded with her fiance over their shared Christian faith.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, an MIT spokesperson deferred all questions to the U.S. Marshals as the investigation “is ongoing.”
“MIT has previously confirmed that Mr. Pan received undergraduate degrees from the Institute in 2014. Mr. Pan had been a graduate student, but is no longer enrolled,” the MIT spokesperson said. “Matters such as these can be extremely distressing, and MIT encourages members of our community to reach out to any of our many support resources for students and employees.”
Yale praised local law enforcement for their “excellent police work that contributed to today’s good news.”
“Kevin remains in the thoughts of the members of the YPD: we wish peace to his family and friends,” the school told The Daily Beast.
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