WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WXIN) — A Purdue University student was killed overnight in his dorm, and his roommate was taken into custody, police say.
A university spokesperson confirmed a student was found dead in McCutcheon Hall on the western edge of campus overnight. Police received a call around 12:44 a.m., and according to Purdue officials, it was the suspect who made the call.
The Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Varun Manish Chheda, 20, from Indianapolis. He was a senior in data science and a little more than a month away from turning 21. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
The suspect was identified as 22-year-old Ji Min Sha. He was taken into custody and is facing a preliminary charge of murder. Purdue Police Chief Lesley Wiete identified him as an international student from Korea. Sha is a junior in cybersecurity.
A Purdue spokesperson confirmed Chheda and Sha were roommates.
Chief Wiete said she believes the attack was “unprovoked” and “senseless.”
FOX59/CBS4 confirmed the victim was a Park Tudor graduate. Park Tudor is a private K-12 prep school on the north side of Indianapolis. The school released a statement on his death.
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, INTERIM HEAD OF PARK TUDOR
One Purdue University senior said other students on the same floor were woken up by a “scream or some loud noises.”
“There are possibly witnesses, but they were not in the room,” said Wiete.
Eight students were removed from the floor as police investigated, but it’s believed they will be allowed back to their rooms before the end of day.
Another Purdue University student who lives in McCutcheon said he received no immediate alert from the university about the homicide. Jad Khalaf, who is an international student from United Arab Emirates, says he got the news from his parents back home.
“The least you could do to inform me as someone who lives in the [same] dorm as someone [who] got murdered a night ago, is send like an Amber Alert on my phone. I’d like to know about it,” expressed Khalaf.
Khalaf also said he’s never questioned his safety once while at Purdue, and he’s “shocked” by the overnight homicide.
It’s just very confusing for me and very odd because it never happens on campus and not something you hear every day, especially in your own dormitory.JAD KHALAF, PURDUE STUDENT
Purdue’s Director of Media and Public Relations Tim Doty said students were not sent a campus alert because the suspect called 911 and was immediately taken into custody. Chief Wiete confirmed the decision in a news conference Wednesday morning.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels issued a statement on the homicide Wednesday morning. He said in part:
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. 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.
Such statistics are of no consolation on a day like this. A death on our campus and among our Purdue family affects each of us deeply.MITCH DANIELS, PURDUE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
“Our hearts go out to the victim and his family and friends and anyone who might have knew him or anybody who he may touched in life,” echoed Chief Wiete. “This is extremely sad and unfortunate, and I can’t imagine what his family is going through at this time.”
Police say there is no threat to students and the outlying community.
Counseling will be made available to students and staff via the school’s CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) program.