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Slain Columbia Grad Student Davide Giri Remembered As 'The Nicest And Brightest Person'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The stabbing death of Columbia University graduate student has sent shockwaves throughout New York City and in his native Italy.

Giri was fatally stabbed near Morningside Park just before 11 p.m. Thursday near 123rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. He was returning from soccer practice when he was attacked, apparently at random.

The suspect has been identified as Vincent Pinkney, 25, of Washington Heights. Sources say Pinkney's a gang member based in Queens who has 16 prior arrests and was out on parole after serving four years behind bars for gang assault.

Sources say Pinkney also allegedly randomly stabbed and injured another a 27-year-old man from Italy, and allegedly threatened another man nearby in Central Park when police caught him with the knife.

Mayor Bill de Blasio paid tribute to Giri on Twitter, saying, ""Davide Giri had his whole life ahead of him. His murder was shocking. He should still be with us today. He should still be playing soccer, studying for his classes, loving life in New York City. Our city is in mourning tonight."

Mourners gathered for a vigil to remember Giri Friday night at Columbia University.

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger called Giri's death "unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus."

"A brilliant doctoral student in an exciting field on his way to an incredible career," Bollinger said.

Giri grew up in Alba, and Italian media Rai News spoke with a shop owner there.

"Davide grew up 20 meters from my house. He was a golden boy, unique... The family did not deserve this sorrow.  It is too much," he said.

"There are no words to describe how we are feeling," New York International Football Club wrote in a post on Instagram. "Davide was nicest and brightest person on the team,"

"He was just such a good man and quiet, quite reserved, but also equally funny. He, you know, was so determined, so intelligent, on and off the pitch, and was such a nice man to be around," Nick Platt, president of New York International Football Club, told CBS2's Kiran Dhillon.

"He was calm, very outgoing, always smiling, encouraging. For this to happen to someone like him, it just hurts even more," teammate Samuel Lartey said.


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