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University Of Chicago Employee Robbed At Gunpoint A Mile From Where Grad Student Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng Was Shot And Killed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A contract employee for the University of Chicago was robbed at gunpoint a mile south of where a grad student was shot and killed on Tuesday.

The University of Chicago graduate shot and killed in a robbery in Hyde Park Tuesday was identified as Dennis Shaoxiong Zheng.

According to police, the incident took place around 5:30 Thursday morning. A contract employee with the University of Chicago was walking eastbound at 1313 E. 60th St., when they were approached by two suspects in a small black SUV.

One of suspects showed the victim a handgun and demanded their items. The person handed over a cell phone. The suspects walked back to the SUV heading eastbound away from campus on 60th Street.

Police said the victim was not injured. UCPD is investigating this case. The address is Chapin Hall, a child welfare policy research center.

Police said on Tuesday, Zheng was on the sidewalk on the 900 block of East 54th Place shortly before 2 p.m. – when out of nowhere, a vehicle pulled up, and a gunman jumped out and demanded his property.

The attacker then shot Zheng in the chest, got back in the vehicle, and fled the scene. It was not clear whether he even took anything.

The sounds of the gunman's car speeding away stood out after the deadly attempted robbery. Zheng was left bleeding on the sidewalk.

Neighbors attempted to stop the bleeding, but were unsuccessful. Zheng was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, friends gathered for a vigil for Zheng late Wednesday – but they found little comfort as police continued to search for the man who shot and killed him in broad daylight. A constant stream of strangers and friends dropped off countless flowers at a growing memorial, as the sense of fear and shock continued to set in

Messages were left displaying the sentiment of those people who contributed to the memorial – written in both English and Chinese. The overarching theme was that they simply want justice.

"I remember him because' he's always willing to help others," a young woman named Xi said at the vigil.

Zheng received his master's degree in statistics from the U of C in July. Many students passed to reflect.

"Wow, it's really said," said Xi, who had a closer connection. "I kind of feel connected because we're both from China, and I can totally understand it's really hard for the family. I can't imagine what would happen to my parents if they just received a call that says, 'Your daughter has been...' I just feel connected and really sad."

The random act in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday has left so many fearful.

"It could happen to anyone," one student said.

Students are beyond worried, because Zheng was the third U of C student to get murdered this year.

In July, someone shot and killed Max Lewis on the Chicago Transit Authority Green Line near 51st Street. Lewis was struck by a stray bullet while riding the Green Line.

Lewis, 20, was a rising third-year in the College at the U of C. He just accepted an investment banking offer he'd been working so hard for and was riding home from his summer internship downtown when his life was cut short.


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