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Crime MIT graduate allegedly stole car on day of Yale student's murder

18:51  23 february  2021
18:51  23 february  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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A graduate student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been named a person of interest in the fatal shooting of a Yale University graduate student allegedly stole a car and swapped the plates on the day of the murder, police said.

Qinxuan Pan, 29, allegedly swiped a blue 2015 GMC Terrain from a car dealership in Mansfield, Massachusetts, about 35 miles southwest of Boston, on Feb. 6, just hours before 26-year-old Kevin Jiang was shot dead on a street in New Haven, Connecticut, according to an application for an arrest warrant filed earlier this month by an officer with the Mansfield Police Department.

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The officer stated in the warrant application that he was dispatched to the dealership on Feb. 6 at approximately 5:30 p.m. because a salesman had reported a stolen vehicle. The salesman told the officer that Pan had walked into the dealership that morning, asking if he could test drive the 2015 GMC Terrain and bring it to his mechanic to have the SUV inspected before he considered purchasing it. The salesman said he attached a Massachusetts dealer number plate to the car before Pan drove off with it at around 11 a.m., according to the warrant application.

The salesman said he texted Pan at approximately 3:30 p.m. to inquire when he was returning the SUV, and Pan responded asking if he could bring it back after-hours due to a family emergency. The salesman said he told Pan that the car needed to be returned before the dealership closes, but Pan did not respond. The salesman said he attempted to call Pan several times but he did not answer. The salesman noted that Pan "seemed like a very squared away person" and said he didn't believe that Pan was trying to steal the vehicle, according to the warrant application.

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a man standing in front of a body of water posing for the camera: Police are searching for Quinxuan Pan, seen in this undated photo. © New Haven Police Department Police are searching for Quinxuan Pan, seen in this undated photo.

The officer stated in the warrant application that he also attempted to contact Pan but was only able to leave a voicemail. He asked the Malden Police Department to check if the vehicle was at Pan's residence, and the officers later reported that they spoke to Pan's mother who told them her son had changed his cellphone number and wouldn't say where he was. She told the officers that Pan would return the car. The officers noted that they have been dispatched to the residence in Malden "many times for mental illness issues," according to the warrant application.

a man standing in front of a body of water posing for the camera © New Haven Police Department

The responding officer stated in the warrant application that he decided to hold off on entering the SUV as stolen and give Pan a chance to contact him or return the vehicle. But when the car hadn't been returned by 10:30 p.m. that night and Pan still hadn't contacted the dealership nor police, the officer said he requested the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Emergency Communications Center to enter the vehicle as stolen and put out an all-points bulletin for the Malden area, according to the warrant application.

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A few minutes later, the officer said he was notified that the SUV had been towed in New Haven, Connecticut, after Pan had allegedly driven the car into a scrap yard where it got stuck on some railroad tracks. Pan had allegedly removed the dealer number plate from the vehicle and attached a Connecticut commercial plate, which was reported to be lost or missing. When officers with the New Haven Police Department went to the location Pan was supposed to be staying to question him, he had already fled, according to the warrant application.

The officer stated in the application that he was requesting a warrant for Pan's arrest on a larceny charge due to the steps he allegedly took to "conceal the vehicle."

a man wearing a suit and tie in front of a book shelf: Graduate student Kevin Jiang is pictured in an undated photo released by Yale University in a statement after he was killed on Feb. 6, 2021. © Yale University Graduate student Kevin Jiang is pictured in an undated photo released by Yale University in a statement after he was killed on Feb. 6, 2021.

During a press conference earlier this month, New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said dispatchers received numerous 911 calls on Feb. 6 at around 8:30 p.m. before responding officers found Jiang dead from multiple gunshot wounds in the East Rock neighborhood, near Yale University's campus. Reyes told reporters that Jiang was operating a vehicle at the time of the shooting but declined to say if the victim was inside or outside his car when he was killed. Police are investigating whether Jiang was targeted and whether the shooting followed a road rage incident.

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Jiang, a former member of the Army National Guard, had recently gotten engaged and was a graduate student at the Yale School of Environment, according to the university's president.

Reyes told reporters that Pan is wanted for questioning in connection with Jiang's killing and is not a suspect in the case at this time.

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In June 2014, Pan received undergraduate degrees in computer science and mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. He has been enrolled as a graduate student in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since September 2014, according to the school.

There are currently two warrants out for Pan's arrest -- one for interstate theft of a vehicle and another for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution related to the former charge.

a house covered in snow: A memorial marks the area near where Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang was killed in New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 6, 2021. © WTNH/NewsNation A memorial marks the area near where Yale graduate student Kevin Jiang was killed in New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 6, 2021.

The United States Marshals Service has joined the search for Pan and is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to his location and arrest. The federal law enforcement agency issued a press release last week describing Pan as 6-feet tall, weighing about 170 pounds and having a medium complexion.

Pan could possibly be staying with friends or family in the Duluth or Brookhaven areas of Georgia, the agency said. He was last seen in the early morning hours on Feb. 11 driving with family members in Brookhaven or Duluth. Relatives told investigators that Pan was carrying a black backpack and acting strange.

"Pan should be considered armed and dangerous," the U.S. Marshals Service said in the press release. "Individuals should not attempt to apprehend him themselves."

Anyone with information on Pan's whereabouts is urged to contact the U.S. Marshals Service at 1-877-Wanted-2 (1-877-926-8332). Any information shared will be considered confidential, the agency said.

ABC News' Will Gretsky, Kate Hodgson, Bill Hutchinson and Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

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