Columbia Student Killed and Tourist Injured in Stabbings; Suspect in Custody

By Carol Tannenhauser

A 30-year-old Columbia graduate student named Davide Giri died, and a 27-year-old Italian tourist was hospitalized in stable condition, after being randomly stabbed Thursday night, in two separate incidents occurring 15 minutes and 13 blocks apart in Morningside Heights, according to the NYPD. The first attack occurred just before 11 p.m. on Thursday.

“The two attacks are believed to have been carried out by the same suspect,” the New York Post reported, but the NYPD said the investigation is ongoing. “The suspect was taken into custody after a third man reported being menaced inside Central Park,” the Post continued. “Officers responded and found the suspect at West 104th Street and Central Park West. He was taken into custody with a large kitchen knife.” He has not yet been charged, the Post reported, and police have not released his name.

Giri was a PhD candidate in computer science at Columbia.

We will update this story as we learn more information.

Photo by Alan Kotok.

NEWS | 57 comments | permalink
    1. dc says:

      Suspect had 11 prior arrests. And yet he roams the streets like a predator.
      Well done, our elected officials.

      • Mark Moore says:

        Which means he’s likely committed hundreds of violent acts, if he was arrested 11 times.

        • LivesOnUWS says:

          Time to pony up more money to keep these people in the system. No more Republican tax cuts. It will probably take 150 to 300 billion more dollars to increase the prison capacity. Even though America has the highest level of incarceration in the world –

          “As of July 2021, the United States had the highest number of incarcerated individuals worldwide, with almost 2.1 million people in prison. The U.S. was followed by China, Brazil, India, and the Russian Federation.”

          Capitalism… It Is a fun game.

          • sg says:

            You’re delusional if you think that capitalism is the cause of thugs terrorizing society. I love NYC, but it really deserves what it’s becoming with people that think like this.

    2. GMB says:

      What a senseless loss of a brilliant young person who put in so much hard work. This is heartbreaking. My condolences to his family.

    3. ben says:

      Absolute heartbreaking tragedy. They need to throw the whole damn book at the perp and make sure he’s gone for a good while.

      • SadforUWS says:

        “good while”? He stabbed someone to death. Should be life in prison.

        • Billie says:

          I don’t want my hard earned tax dollars paying for his room and board for the rest of his life. In this type of circumstance I’m for death sentence. The sentence he gave to this brilliant young man. This is upsetting and unfair. Condolences to his family

          • Think practically says:

            It will cost more of your tax dollars between all the appeals, etc, for him to be held on death row than life in prison. And by “in this type of circumstance” do you mean all murder suspects should get the death penalty? Because that seems to be what you’re saying here. We don’t even know that it was premeditated.

      • Take a breath says:

        Well, yes. That’s what a murder and attempt murder charge will typically do.

        Two things: these are random attacks. There is NO way to prevent them in our society other than getting ahead of the ball with mental illness. Unless this individual was acting psychotic and violent previously, there is no way to restrain him or keep him secluded. We do not do pre-emptive detention in the United States without cause. And remember that arrests do not equal convictions.

        Splashy headlines aside, New York City is not even at 2010 levels of violence. Keep everything in perspective, be aware of your surroundings, and you’re almost certain not to experience anything remotely like this.

        • Chuck250 says:

          Take a Breath has it right. No way to predict, too random, just be aware of your surroundings. Have lived in NYC for 78 years and am a former probation officer. We are in a much better place than we were 30 years ago but there is still too much personal and social trauma and inequity.

        • Leon says:

          In theory I agree with you – the police can’t just go around arresting people.

          But our laws can be strengthened to keep those with prior convictions off the street. According to this report, he is a 25 year old with 16 prior arrests. Someone who has been arrested 16 times by age 25, regardless of what the arrests are for, has major problems and should not be walking the streets.

          https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2021/12/03/columbia-student-stabbed-to-death-morningside-park/

          And Kendra’s law should be enforced more aggressively to remove those who clearly have major mental health troubles from the general population. It is best for them, and it is best for us. The vast majority of the time, it is very clear who these people are. I’m not talking about just rounding up anyone who is behaving a bit oddly – one doesn’t need a PhD to figure this out.

          • RAL says:

            this doesn’t;t sound like mental health issues – the guy is a gang member and has already been jailed. I don’t think even gangs recruit people with mental health issues

        • lynn says:

          Keeping things in perspective and being aware of your surroundings does not make a person immune to crime. For the past two years I have watched people in this neighborhood defend the rights of the homeless/mentally ill while ‘random’ attacks were happening from 68th to 79th street, Columbus to WEA (primarily on B’way). I am hyper aware but it only takes ONE SPLIT SECOND for someone to have a psychotic episode and turn on you. I have witnessed and personally experienced several incidents that involved ‘street homeless,’ men. I guarantee your attitude will change when this happens to you or someone you care about.

          • David S says:

            “…it only takes ONE SPLIT SECOND for someone to have a psychotic episode and turn on you”

            Well, no. Pyschoses develop over a period of months or years, and psychotic episodes do not occur in a “split second”. And finally, psychotics are no more violent or dangerous to others than the population as a whole.

            I’m not sure where you got your psychology degree, but they clearly didn’t do a very good job of training you.

            • SadforUWS says:

              “psychotics are no more violent or dangerous to others than the population as a whole” — that’s a selective comment. IF they take their medication, then yes. But too many stop taking their meds, which leads many to violent outbursts.

          • Jenny Lepravo says:

            I knew the deceased, casually, and used to live a block away. Hard not to take this personally and I find zero comfort in statements like “the 80s were worse”. Some of many things I’ve personally experienced in my decade of Manhattan, mostly UWS living (with recent ramp up)
            – a man yelling he will murder me and my dog in the park
            – another man demanding $20 or he’d kill me
            – a zombie walking guy suddenly turning around and running at me and my dog late at night, I ran into my building before I found out what happened next
            – someone rushing towards my Asian partner next to the subway tracks so I had to physically pull them aside.
            – a triple homicide occurring on a block I’d walked past 10 mins prior.
            – someone getting randomly sucker punched across the street from me (and partner experienced similar in a subway car)
            – and I could go on.
            I’m trying to be a compassionate person and voter but I’m also scared.

        • Peter says:

          What are you talking about? This thug WAS acting violently before – 11 prior arrests for a variety of crimes, including violent ones. This was completely preventable – given the number of chances this thug has been given and wasted.

          Gang member? What year is it? Why aren’t gangs labeled terrorist organizations and pursued to the full extent of those laws?

          So many ways to take criminals off the streets – if the political will and common sense among lawmakers was present.

        • Stee says:

          Being aware of your surroundings would not have helped at all in this case, unless being aware would mean total avoidance of the area.

        • W 75th Resident says:

          I’m mostly on your side here, but I’m going to quibble with your comment, ” Keep everything in perspective, be aware of your surroundings, and you’re almost certain not to experience anything remotely like this.”
          1. Davide was attacked well before the wee hours of the morning. It’s not an unreasonable time to be walking from dinner or drinks or what have you.
          2. We can all be more aware of our surroundings, but it never, never makes the victims of violence culpable for bad things that happen to them. Neither Davide nor the Italian tourist deserve to be victims of knife crime. They weren’t asking to be attacked, regardless of the level of attention they were paying to their surroundings. And given that Davide has been gone for less than 24 hours, it’s just pretty insensitive to be focusing on angles like this.

        • Dante alighieri says:

          Sure, everything is honky dory.2010 was worse, hogwash. It’s because of people like you, in total denial, that this city is going down the tubes.

        • anoizy1 says:

          Except he did have 11 prior arrests. So not a complete surprise.

        • Nednyc says:

          Could you provide the link showing 2010 vs 2020/21 crime stats for NYC.

    4. Florinda says:

      No words, other than that deB has contributed to increased crime in NYC in so many ways. Condolences to all survivors of this week’s violence e here and elsewhere.

    5. SadforUWS says:

      Serious question, not trying to be hyperbolic: How many people have to be sent to the hospital or morgue for people in this city to demand sweeping changes regarding bail reform and the mentally ill? Does it have to be someone you know personally? A family member?

    6. Agnes Frank says:

      Morningside Heights was a dangerous territory, even 50 years ago, especially after dark. This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if proper warnings were available about it.

    7. Steevie says:

      I live a few blocks from there. Morningside Drive curves around, so 3 streets meet at that point, Morningside Drive, Amsterdam Avenue and W. 123rd Street. The first victim was stabbed to death there. It sounds like the perpatrator stabbed him there and then walked down Morningside Drive to the other end of the park and stabbed the Italian tourist. Really there is no way to make that area safe. The park is on one side of the street. Across the street you have buildings, but the doorways to the big buildings are on the side streets. There is very little pedestrian traffic and very little vehicular traffic. Columbia would be wise to advise students to avoid Morningside Drive after dark.

      • Carlos says:

        People live there – what are they supposed to do, not go out after dark? I agree that there are ways to be more self-aware and minimize the chance of bad things happening, but we can’t just lock ourselves down in fear.

        The best way to prevent this from happening is to have fewer people capable of committing these crimes on the street. If someone has committed multiple crimes before, no matter how small, they are more likely to commit more crimes.

        Similarly, if someone has major mental health challenges, they should not be left to their own devices. They should be made a ward of the state so they cannot do harm unto others. Letting them tend to themselves helps neither them nor the people around them.

      • Agnes Frank says:

        In the sixties, when I was at Columbia, students were advised to avoid Morningside Drive and Morningside Heights. Regrettably this practice has been discontinued.

      • Glen says:

        Morningside Park has never been safe after dark in the 58 years I’ve been living on the UWS, and it’s iffy during the day. I would be more than happy to see the park turned over to Columbia U to develop as the University sees fit. That park adds nothing to the neighborhood and in my opinion detracts from the area considerably.

        • TomF says:

          Glen, Your impressions of Morningside Park are out of date. It was quite dangerous 50 years when I arrived in the area, but over the past 20 years, the Friends of MP and Parks Dept have restored much of Olmsted & Vaux’s vision for this masterpiece of landscape architecture. By day, it is full of children playing, families picnicking and athletes training on the staircases.I go birding there several times a week and feel completely safe. BTW the crime occurred on Amsterdam Ave not in MP.

        • Steevie says:

          There are about one hundred steps to climb from the bottom of the park in Harlem to the top of the park in Morningside Heights. It is now and has always been a natural barrier to Harlem.

      • Jenny Lepravo says:

        This is literally between his apartment and his office. Are we all supposed to be at home before 8pm?

    8. Mark Moore says:

      I’m generally opposed to capital punishment but for this repeat violent offender I’d make an exception.

      • Kate says:

        Stop saying you’re opposed to it, then. You’re not. (Neither am I.) There are THOUSANDS of cases exactly like this one happening across the country yearly. A promising young life pointlessly and violently snuffed out by a worthless gang member with a long rap sheet. This particular case, tragic and enraging as it is, is not somehow “special” or worthy of being an exception to your anti-capital punishment stance.

        Just be open with your stance. This guy should be put to death so he can’t inflict any more random pain on innocents. There is no question of his guilt. Maybe if more people stopped being coy with their support for capital punishment, there would be more political will to actually do it. If only.

        • Mark Moore says:

          I oppose it because it’s inevitable that it will be applied incorrectly at some point. Innocent people will be executed and others won’t because of their wealth and status. This guy may deserve it but overall we’re better off without it.

      • EdNY says:

        You can’t have it both ways. It’s easy to support capital punishment when you know with absolute certainty that someone is guilty. Unfortunately, there are countless cases where this is not true. Ans I personally think it’s worse to be locked up for the rest of your life than to be put to death.

    9. Morningsider says:

      As a longtime Columbia person I do think the university could do a much better job orienting students to being in a potentially dangerous big city as bucolic as campus and the neighborhood seem. There are conflicting reports whether the deceased was out jogging or returning from an event — either way, he and Tessa Majors and whoever else should have been told to stay out of the park after dark, and I doubt they ever were. It’s an awkward topic but a lot of people today just don’t have the street smarts we used to take for granted.

    10. Frank says:

      There is an assumption running through many of the comments that the killer has mental health issues. I don’t know if there is a factual basis for adopting that perspective, and I suppose that that derives from the idea that no one would act that way unless they are crazy. I question that assumption because I think that there are people who are simply evil and you are doing them an undeserved favor by characterizing their conduct as deriving from mental illness. That becomes a way of excusing their responsibility and placing it on society as a whole. My view is that the person must bear the consequences of their misconduct absent their establishing that they have grounds for being legally excused. The more we look for ways to excuse their conduct, the more likely it will be repeated by them and others. And if they are not dissuaded by being told to stop, then they can be dissuaded by isolating them from the members of our society who abide by the rules and want to be left in peace and alive, uninjured and not grieving.

      • LK says:

        >there are people who are simply evil
        That is a deviation from normal behavior. This is a mental affliction, and people refer to this state as crazy/mad/whatever. Whether his mental state was influenced by drugs or by a long running psychiatric disease will be determined by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will also decide whether the perpetrator is competent to stand trial and whether he was competent at the time of the murder etc… There is nothing wrong with calling things the way they are ( which is evil/abnormal/crazy ). At the same time, I agree this should not be an excuse to perpetrators ( unless medically established ), but ESPECIALLY it should not be an excuse for politicians and the system that failed to protect victims and to isolate/treat/help perpetrators.

    11. Bill Williams says:

      Almost two years to the day since Tessa was stabbed to death.

      • Peter says:

        May she rest in peace. Can’t get the face of her stricken father in the courtroom out of my brain. Now Davide’s loved ones will be added to this list.

        Meanwhile, noone, absolutely noone in a position of power in this city, has done anything at all to begin addressing this assault on civilization.

    12. Spock says:

      The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York has ruled that the stun guns and taser ban in N.Y. Pen. Law 265.0 is unconstitutional. Possession and carrying for reasons of self defense are in theory legal until/if New York enacts administrative rules governing possession and carrying. However, as the legislature has not amended the penal code (the ban) a district attorney may attempt to prosecute on the basis that the law has not been rescinded by the legislature. In any case, I would rather be safe and argue the law later in court.

    13. UWSstats says:

      Does anyone else find it less than random that both stabbing victims were Italian citizens? Perhaps the 3rd man was not, and that is what saved him.

      • Steevie says:

        It is just a coincidence that both stabbing victims were Italian. This story will of course get around in Italy. There will be long articles about how both Italians came to be at this particular point on this particular night with one losing his life and the other seriously injured. Morningside Park was closed today. All the entrances to the park were taped off or guarded by police officers. The staircase where Tessa Majors was murdered had 3 police officers guarding it. All very symbolic. Senseless, motiveless killing seems to be growing. You have the guy with the red SUV in Wisconsin, the boy at the school in Michigan who got a gun as a present and now this. My advice is to keep out of the park and the side of Morningside Drive bordering the park if possible at least until this madness passes.

    14. Westsidegal says:

      Defund the police.

    15. Jimbo says:

      A definite death penalty case. Oh yeah,NY has no death penalty .SHUCKS!!!!

    16. Nani says:

      Monster Vincent Pinkney of Washington Heights is one of many violent offenders with a huge rao sheet, released from jail, who should not have been walking the streets. The murder victim David Giri , an accomplished PHD grad student and teacher had his whole life ahead of him. My heart goes out to his family and friends. And the second victim, an Italian tourist, was stabbed in the back. This is too horrible. I’m considering buying a bullet and stab proof vest.

    17. Gail D. says:

      The second Italian wasn’t just a tourist. He was a potential applicant to the graduate school which is probably why they were together. Two brilliant minds with endless potential and drive cut short by someone with no potential and a drive only for Evil. Pray tell me, why are KNOWN GANG MEMBERS WALKING AROUND? If a member of al Qaeda was walking around would we just go on about our day? Gangs are criminal organizations tied only to crime and evil behaviors. They don’t raise money for charity or help the elderly. All gang members, PERIOD, require being surveilled or detained. Period.

    18. emilia says:

      ironically, there’s hilarious talk of how bad “gentrification” is and how “columbia should be sensitive to the effects.” sorry, but if the effects of gentrification “tensions” cause a gang member to stab someone, perhaps we should either a) be advised to avoid the harlem/ morningside heights area completely or b) gentrification is a .. good thing because clearly it is a crime ridden area filled with stabbing monsters. want to be compassionate and safe, and a lot of the rhetoric just sounds dumb to me.

    19. Luciano Mezzetta says:

      So much goodness and so much human worth was destroyed in the name of evil. I said evil. Forget social warrior BS. EVIL.