Recent University of Chicago graduate shot, killed in armed robbery near campus identified

Chicago Crime

CHICAGO — A recent University of Chicago graduate was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in an armed robbery near campus.

He was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office as Shaoxiong Dennis Zheng, 24, of the 5400 block of South Ingleside Avenue.

Dennis Zheng was a student in the Department of Statistics Masters Program for two years., the university said. He graduated in summer 2021. 

Just before 2 p.m., authorities were dispatched to the 900 block of 54th Place on the report of a shooting.

Police said a 24-year-old man was on the sidewalk when a dark-colored vehicle pulled up. A male suspect exited the vehicle and demanded the man’s property. The victim was then shot in the chest and pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The vehicle was last seen fleeing westbound on 54th Place.

Emily Fitzgerald, a grad student at the University of Chicago, had no idea what was going on when she came home. The 24-year-old victim was her neighbor.

“I live on my own here it definitely makes me uneasy,” she said. “It’s unfortunate this kinda violence has visited the Hyde Park community.”

Around two hours earlier, the university sent out a safety notice regarding shots fired in the area of the 1500 block of East 53rd Street. Police said two local businesses and multiple vehicles were struck by gunfire.

As bullets flew by, Congressional candidate and founder of My Block, My Hood, My City Jahmal Cole dropped to the ground.

“I dove under the car, I ran for my life,” Cole said. “Nobody was hit but it’s traumatizing.  When you’re running for your life, that doesn’t just go away.”

Witnesses reported the gunfire came from a dark grey Hyundai Sonata with Illinois plates number BZ59852.

Earlier this summer, a 20-year-old student from Colorado was shot while sitting on a Green Line train. Max Lewis was paralyzed, but alert in the hospital. He was taken off life support and died on July 4.

The university sent the following message to students and staff following Tuesday’s deadly shooting.

“We are working with the Chicago Police Department to gather more facts about the case, and the University of Chicago Police Department is immediately increasing patrols near campus. While we have not had any indication that this is an active incident, we encourage you to be vigilant and exercise caution.

This is devastating news for our entire community. We will keep you informed as we know more about this incident.”

Anyone with information can leave an anonymous tip at cpdtip.com.

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