- The victim, Varun Manish Chheda, of Indianapolis, a senior who studied data science, was just 10 days away from his 21st birthday.
An Indian American student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, was killed in his dorm room by his roommate early this morning (Oct. 5). The Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 20-year-old Varun Manish Chheda, of Indianapolis, a senior who studied data science, according to The Purdue Exponent.
A university spokesperson told media outlets that a 911 call came into the Purdue University Police Department at 12:44 a.m. on Oct. 5 from McCutcheon Hall on the western edge of the campus. The call was made by Chheda’s roommate, Jin Min Sha, who’s in custody as a suspect. There is no threat to the community, the university spokesperson said. The 22-year-old junior is an international student from Korea, studying cybersecurity.
A preliminary autopsy on Oct. 5 revealed that the young man died due to “multiple sharp force traumatic injuries,” the university newspaper added. “There is no information on a possible motive at this time,” the paper quoted Purdue Police Chief Lesley Wiete as saying. She did not confirm if any weapons were recovered and said the act was “unprovoked and senseless.”
Both students were awake at the time of the incident in their first-floor dorm room, she said, adding that “eight students were removed from the floor near the crime scene while officers investigated, but the floor is no longer closed off.” There may be witnesses, she added, but they were not in the room at the time.
In a statement sent to students and staff on Oct. 5, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said “this is as tragic an event as we can imagine happening on our campus and our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible event.” Daniels said that the Purdue University Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation of the incident. “As Purdue’s president, but even more so as a parent myself, I assure you that the safety and security of our students is the single highest priority on our campus,” he said. “Purdue is an extraordinarily safe place on any given day, and compared with cities of Purdue’s population (approximately 60,000 in all), we experience a tiny fraction of violent and property crime that occurs elsewhere.”
Chheda was just 10 days away from his 21st birthday, the Indianapolis Star reported. He graduated from Park Tudor High School in 2020 and was a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program the year he graduated. He was also a candidate in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and ran cross country in 2019.
“The entire Park Tudor community is incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Varun Chheda, Park Tudor class of 2020. Our prayers are with his family at this difficult time,” Dennis Bisgaard, the interim head of Park Tudor, told Fox News Digital in a statement.
McCutcheon resident Lev Working told The Purdue Exponent that he “lives on the first floor, down the hall from where the incident happened.” The Polytechnic Institute student, who was on the way to his 8:30 a.m. class said the incident “probably registered” in his head “two minutes ago. I have no clue how I’ll feel (coming back) later. I’m rattled now,” he added. “Murder is something you hear about, but not something that happens near you on a Tuesday.”
The university staff are offering counseling and support services to students. Classes are continuing as scheduled. This marks the university’s first on-campus homicide since January 2014, as reported by Fox News.