Students at Purdue University Residence Hall Left in Dark About Slaying for Hours

  • In US
  • 2022-10-07 05:56:24Z
  • By TODAY

Several students in the Purdue University residence hall where a student was killed early Wednesday, Oct. 5, said they had no idea there'd been a homicide there until hours later, when they learned about it from friends, the news or in an email from the school president.

One resident at McCutcheon Hall, the all-male dorm where the killing of senior Varun Manish Chheda unfolded on the first floor, said he was in the dark even after hearing from university president Mitch Daniels.

Varun Manish Chheda (WTHR)
Varun Manish Chheda (WTHR)  

"When I saw the email it didn't even list which residence hall it happened at," said Kolitha Perera, a freshman who lives on the 5th floor. "I had to Google it to find out what happened and was shocked that it was in our building."

"We got most of our information from the news like everyone else," he said.

Perera said he started school at Purdue two months ago, knows few people on campus and was left fearful after Chheda's death.

"I feel like this is something so big and to not find out until several hours after - it was unsettling," he said.

Asked why the university didn't alert students at McCutcheon Hall sooner, a university spokesman said suspect Ji Min Sha, who called 911 around 12:45 a.m. to alert police to Chheda's death, was apprehended minutes later.

The spokesman, Tim Doty, cited a federal law and said there was no threat to the community.

"No timely warning was issued," he said.

Sha, who was Chheda's roommate, was later booked on suspicion of murder. A preliminary autopsy said Chheda died of "multiple sharp force traumatic injuries."

Homicide was listed as his manner of death. As of late Oct. 6, Sha, a 22-year-old cybersecurity major, had not been charged.

In the email from Daniels that one student said he received around 6 a.m., nearly six hours after the killing was reported, the school's top official briefly described the incident, assured students about the importance of campus safety and said counseling services were available.

Some students who were gaming with Chheda when he appears to have been attacked reported hearing screams on a call through Discord, the instant messaging platform that they were using to talk.

But others in the large red brick residence hall, home to more than 700 students, said they went to sleep "without knowing that there was a homicide seven floors below us," as freshman Jibraan Ghazi put it.

Parth Thakre, a freshman on the 7th floor, faulted the school for not alerting students earlier.

"I know there is a procedure," he said. "I can see why they kind of delayed because they got the guy. But they should have given us more information."

"A text message would have been nice," added Daren Smith, also a freshman. "I get that they didn't want to induce panic, but we also probably shouldn't have had to hear everything from the news."

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