As the suspect behind Thursday’s fatal stabbing of a Columbia University grad student was awaiting a court appearance on Saturday, the campus mourned yet another murdered classmate — and demanded that the school step up for their safety.
“Take responsibility for this. At Columbia University, it’s the best students in the world. You have to protect them,” said Roberto Donnianni, 40, a scientist who attended Columbia from 2011 to 2018. “Each student pays $80,000 to come here. The life of people is worth much more than this. It’s just unacceptable. What’s the responsibility they are taking?”
Davide Giri, 30, was killed Thursday night near Morningside Park as part of a string of attacks in upper Manhattan that also left another man hospitalized with a stab wound.
The tragedy brought back chilling memories of the December 2019 killing of Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old student at Columbia’s Barnard College who was fatally stabbed during a botched robbery just a block from campus, also near Morningside Park.
“It’s dangerous. It always been. It’s not the first person,” said Donnianni’s wife, Giulia Papiani, 38, an associate scientist, referring to Majors.
Giri’s accused killer, Vincent Pinkney 25, was taken from Manhattan Criminal Court to NewYork Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital with chest pains Saturday, delaying his expected arraignment on murder charges.
He is also accused of stabbing Columbia student Roberto Malaspina, who had arrived in New York from his native Italy just 24 hours earlier. In an email to students Saturday afternoon, Columbia said the NYPD would be instituting temporary 24-hour patrols in Morningside Park, following the recent violence.
“We are all concerned about the safety of our campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Columbia is working directly with the New York Police Department and City officials to think through the needs of everyone. There will be more to report on these discussions shortly,” Columbia President Lee Bollinger said in the email.
But some thought the safety measures were too little, too late.
“Columbia University has billions of dollars they can spend to make everyone feel safe,” said Donnianni, who added that the school’s message to incoming students at orientation was, “If they stop you, they’ll ask for wallet and cellphone, give it to them.”
Donnianni said he is a native Italian, just like Giri was.
“As an Italian, I moved here at 30, the same age as him. I walked here many times,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking for me that he was killed here. … I came here like him with dreams. You never think in your dreams that someone is going to come and kill you.”
Mitch Kim, 32, a Columbia Business School student from Stamford, Conn., fumed: “The thing is a similar incident happened two years ago. Now they’re reinforcing the safety?
“After a few months, it’s going to go back to two years ago. All of this might be temporary and that concerns me,” Kim said.“Either more cops or safety. Not for sake of PR, just do it.”
Fellow Columbia business student Fawad Piracha, 29, said: “There probably should have been more security, more surveillance.”
Pinkney has “lawyered up,” and is refusing to talk, according to law enforcement sources — at least one of whom believed the accused may have been high on PCP or K2 at the time of the killings.
The Manhattan man, who is allegedly affiliated with the EBK, or Every Body Killas, gang, has had no gang activity recently, said the source, who speculated based on Pinkney’s behavior that he was high at the time of the stabbings.
“He told detectives he’d spent his time before the stabbings smoking weed,” one source told The Post. “Right now, they have them [the stabbings] as just random acts, no motive,” another said.
Pinkney is also being probed in connection with the stabbing of a German tourist in the same neighborhood a day before Thursday night’s bloodshed.
The tourist, Thomas Ambuhler, told The Post on Saturday that he was “healing well” and had been “invited” by investigators to provide a DNA sample and confirm the timeline of his attack. He declined further comment.
Pinkney did not speak as he was transported Friday night out of the NYPD’s 26th Precinct station house in upper Manhattan on Friday and escorted to a waiting car by detectives. Clad in a white Tyvek suit and mask, he was asked by reporters if he had anything to say — and replied “yes” before standing as if in a trance.
After staring down reporters for 30 seconds, he shook his head and got into the car. Pinkney has been collared 11 times since 2012 on charges that include robbery and assault, and he was on supervised release from prison for beating a man and slashing his face in 2013.
The 5-foot-5, 140-pound Pinkney allegedly stabbed Giri, a computer-science Ph.D. student, in the stomach at around 11 p.m., about four blocks from campus as he returned from a soccer practice.
Mortally wounded, Giri staggered out of the park and along West 123rd St. before collapsing near Amsterdam Ave. He was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital.
About 20 minutes later, Pinkney allegedly knifed Malaspina in the back and the abdomen on West 110th St. near Columbus Ave. The 27-year-old was recovering at Mount Sinai Morningside.
A police official said a witness described the accused stabber as “jumping around, happy” after the attack on on Malaspina.
Detectives have video footage of Giri’s murder, in addition to the witness statements, according to sources. Officers also collected DNA from under Pinkney’s fingernails, his clothing and the knife cops recovered when he was arrested.
Additional reporting by Jack Morphet, Georgett Roberts and Craig McCarthy