WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Twenty-year-old Varun Manish Chheda of Indianapolis died early Wednesday inside his first-floor dorm room in McCutcheon Hall, an apparent victim of homicide, according to Tippecanoe County Coroner Carrie Costello and Purdue University police.
An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Chheda’s roommate, Ji Min Sha, 22, is the suspect and is in custody, Purdue announced in a news conference about 10 am Wednesday. Chheda was a data science major.
Ji Min Sha went by the nickname Jimmy, and he was a cyber security major, according to information from the news conference.
At 10 am, the Tippecanoe County Jail reported that the suspect had not been booked into the jail.
“We had him very quickly and there was no threat to campus by this individual any further,” Purdue Police Chief Lesley Wiete said about the arrest of the suspect.
The roommate called police about 12:45 am Wednesday to report the killing. He reportedly is in custody.
Purdue homicide investigation:What we know
Wiete did not comment on what might have sparked the killing, but she noted that the killing took place inside the dorm room, which is where they located the suspect.
“I can’t discuss that just yet,” Wiete said when asked whether a weapon was used. “I’m hoping that as soon as we are given the go ahead and we get more information, our team can help release further information to you for your reports as well.”
Police did not sent out a campus alert because the suspect was in custody and there was no danger to the campus community, Wiete said.
Purdue police declined to comment about the factual circumstances, referring media to Doty, whose email indicated that Purdue police are still gathering details. He noted that there is no danger to the Purdue community since the suspect is in custody.
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Students living near the crime scene were moved to other rooms, and the university has counselors available for those who need it, Purdue communication specialist Trevor Peters stated.
Chheda is Tippecanoe County’s fourth homicide of the year.
Mitch Daniels says safety of students is the highest priority
Purdue President Mitch Daniels released a statement Wednesday.
“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.
“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,” Daniels 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.
“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.”
Daniels ended his official statement by adding his gratitude for those who take the time to care for each other during this time at Purdue.
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The last homicide on Purdue’s campus was Jan. 14, 2014, when Cody Cousins killed Andrew Boldt in the Electrical Engineering building. Cousin pleaded guilty, was sentenced, then killed himself in prison later in 2014.
Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ MargaretJC2.
Reach Ron Wilkins at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.
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