Who was Davide Giri, the Columbia grad student fatally stabbed in NYC?

by 24USATVDec. 4, 2021, 3 a.m. 23
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The Columbia University grad student stabbed to death near the Manhattan campus late Thursday was a soccer-loving Italian who came to the US eight years ago for school and loved living in New York, pals say.

Davide Giri, 30, was knifed in the stomach in a random attack as he walked back to his Morningside Heights apartment after soccer practice with his team, NY International FC, NYPD sources and friends told The Post on Friday.

Shocked neighbors and friends said Giri loved living in New York and described him as a soft-spoken, “gifted student” who was known back home especially for his charity work with his local church.

“I’m devastated,” his longtime friend Cesare Mercurio, 31, told The Post. “I can’t make sense of the act itself; it gives me anger.”

“He was probably the warmest person I’ve ever met in my life. He had this way of making you forget bad things. He was smart and academically ambitious,” he said.

Mercurio called Giri “the soul” of his friend group in Chicago, where the two met studying in a tech program nine years ago.

“He was always emitting happiness. He was funny, he took things seriously but he also knew when not to,” Mercurio said.

Giri was born in Alba, growing up near Turin in northern Italy, where his parents still live. He is survived by his parents, and sister and brother.

“This is terrible news which has left everyone shocked,” former Alba Mayor Maurizio Marello told The Post. “I know David’s family well, they are an example to us all and a very rare type, they are people who have always been involved in working for the community,”

Current Mayor Carlo Bo told Quotidiano Nazionale, “Davide was a brilliant boy, with his whole life in front of him, and what happened is unacceptable.

“Davide … was well known in Alba — his family has always been involved in the world of volunteering and the parish,” the mayor said of the victim, whose LinkedIn profile said he worked as an “activity leader and coordinator” at the church’s summer camp.

With several university degrees already under his belt in Italy, Giri came to the US to study in 2013.

He settled in the Big Apple five years ago after obtaining a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Giri was a PhD candidate in computer science at Columbia when he was killed, according to his website.

“He was a quick learner and very curious. He was also a very warm and friendly person, always the soul of the party and ready to go out and have fun,” Giri’s longtime friend, Mattias Mengoni, told The Post on Friday.

The pair studied together in Italy and then Chicago before Giri moved to New York.

“He really liked New York,” Mengoni said of his late friend. “He found it welcoming and multicultural. He was very accepting of all people from all backgrounds and New York was giving that to him.”

Mengoni added that Giri had planned to remain in the Big Apple “at least for the time being.”

“He loved football, he was the No. 2 player for his team in New York,” Mengoni said, adding that Giri was a defensive specialist. “And in Chicago, he was the leader of our intramural team.”

His soccer team confirmed he was stabbed on his way home from soccer practice, describing him in a Twitter tribute as “our lovely teammate and pillar of the club.”

“Davide was the nicest and brightest person on the team. He saw Italy win the Euros, Inter bring the Scudetto home, and he was a big contributor to our successes throughout the years,” the team wrote.

“We love you, man. You were a rock in defense and we will play and win for you because this is what you wanted.”

Another tweet from the team featured photos of Giri in action on the field and noted, “your left-foot and slide tackles made wonders.”

“RIP our friend Davide,” the team added, in between rows of hearts in the green, white and red colors of the Italian flag.

A friend and former roommate who met Giri in 2012 while studying in Italy told The Post that the victim “was a very chill guy, very soft-spoken.

“I’ve never heard him raise his voice,” said the pal, Emmanuel Onyema. “One of the smartest guys I knew.”

Aside from excelling in the field of computer science, Giri was so talented at soccer that his teammates called him “Becks” — a nod to former megastar David Beckham, the friend said.

“He had a similar style as Beckham,” Onyema said.

“Why would anyone ever want him dead?” the distraught friend said. “This is unbelievable.”

A neighbor, who didn’t want to be named, told The Post they were in shock over his death.

The neighbor told The Post that Giri had just finished a soccer match when he was fatally stabbed walking through Morningside Park.

“We loved him and we are very shocked,” the neighbor said.

“We thought we lived in a safe place. We’re in one of the most advanced cities in the world and at 11 p.m. at night, someone should be able to come home from soccer practice safely.”

Alex Starzyk, one of Giri’s other neighbors and a fellow Columbia student, was in shock over Giri’s death, saying, “I saw him all the time. He was always so nice.”

“He always held the elevator door for me any time he saw me carrying anything up or down the stairs,” Starzyk added.

“It’s so tragic for our intellectual community but also our apartment building. I go to the library all the time at 2 a.m. It’s a sanctuary. It’s devastating to think it’s unsafe.”

Columbia University president Lee Bollinger notified students of Giri’s death in an email first thing Friday.

“I write with great sorrow to share the tragic news that Davide Giri, a graduate student at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, was killed in a violent attack near campus on Thursday night,” Bollinger wrote.

“This news is both unspeakably sad and deeply shocking, as it took place only steps from our campus.”

Vincent Pinkney, a 25-year-old gang member with a lengthy rap sheet, has been arrested over Giri’s fatal stabbing and another attack that left a 27-year-old tourist injured, authorities said.

The Manhattan man has 11 prior arrests dating back to 2012 for robberies and assaults, as well as other alleged crimes, police sources said. He is on post-release supervision until 2022.

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