Purdue University student arrested in killing of roommate

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Written By Sristi Dumre

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Purdue University students gathered in silence on Wednesday night to attend a vigil and place flowers beside the Unfinished Block P statue, which was built in part to honor students who were unable to complete their education at the West Lafayette, Indiana, institution.

Varun Manish Chheda, a 20-year-old Indianapolis resident who was fatally stabbed earlier that day in his first-floor dormitory on the Purdue campus, was remembered by the students who were present. Ji Min “Jimmy” Sha, 22, was detained after calling 911 on himself at around 12:45 a.m., according to Lesley Weite, the chief of police at Purdue University. Sha was charged with preliminary murder.

Weite told reporters on Wednesday that “[we] believe it was unprovoked” and referred to the death attack as “senseless.”

“Our thoughts are with the victim’s family, friends, and loved ones. Weite remarked, “I can’t even begin to picture what his family is going through.

Weite provided little details regarding the murder or a potential motive on Wednesday, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. According to reports from NBC News and other outlets, Chheda was playing video games online and speaking to friends on the social network Discord when his friends suddenly heard screaming from his end of the call. She also mentioned a number of “possible witnesses” who were not present during the attack.

On Thursday, it wasn’t apparent if Sha had a lawyer. After being arrested, he didn’t say much as police carried him away in handcuffs, but TV news reporters caught his few words from beneath a blue medical mask: “I love my family.”

Chheda died of “several sharp force traumatic injuries,” according to the preliminary autopsy, according to Tippecanoe County Coroner Carrie Costillo, who classified his death as a homicide. A definitive autopsy report is awaited from the toxicological tests.

Students were shocked to learn about a fatal stabbing at Purdue, which has more than 50,000 undergraduate students enrolled. Many people who talked to regional TV stations and the independent student publication the Purdue Exponent claimed they first learned of the murder when friends and family texted them the news and subsequently through a statement by Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue. (Daniels is a contributing columnist for the Washington Post.)

The college community was notified by Daniels’ statement, which was made public on Wednesday, that a student had been killed in his dorm and that his roommate, the suspect, was under arrest. However, neither Chheda nor Sha were mentioned in the statement.

According to Daniels’ statement, campus violence is “a minuscule fraction of what occurs elsewhere” when compared to the nearby communities, making Purdue “an extremely safe environment on any given day.”

Such figures, he continued, “are of no comfort on a day like this.” Each of us is greatly impacted by a death that occurs on our campus or among the Purdue family.

Chheda’s family members were unavailable for comment on Thursday, but an online obituary recalled him as an inquisitive and accomplished student studying data science who had won prestigious awards like a National Merit Scholarship Award and finished second nationally in the Science Bowl Competition in 2016.

The 20-year-old, who practiced Taekwondo, was captured in photographs by family friends doing powerful side and back kicks while wearing his white Dobok. In another image, his freckled face could be seen grinning as he peered through a doorway.

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