BREAKING: Student fleeing muggers hit by car, dies

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WABC TV and multiple student tipsters inform us that a grad student [not GS as previously reported] fleeing muggers at 122nd Street and Broadway was hit by a car and taken to St. Luke’s with “severe head trauma.” More on this as we get more information.

UPDATE (1:33 AM): Gothamist post reveals that the student was studying late in Butler before the incident. We now feel worse about this than we already did.

UPDATE (11:05 AM): The student, Minghui Yu, died last night at St. Luke’s Hospital.  The Daily News has the story in classic tabloid form (e.g. “The guy’s body was twisted like a pretzel.”)  The Spec has it here.  Bwog, for sorrow, hangs its head.

Update (1:19 PM): More coverage can be found here and here.  

Bollinger’s email after the jump 

Dear Members of the Columbia Community:

I am writing to share very sad news about one of our graduate students.

Last night a PhD student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences,

Minghui Yu, was struck by an automobile two blocks north of our main

campus at 122nd Street and Broadway while he was apparently fleeing an

attempted robbery on the sidewalk.  The student was taken to

St. Luke’s Hospital but passed away as a result of the severe injuries

he had sustained.

An NYPD investigation is underway and is being supported by the

University’s Department of Public Safety which, last night following

university procedures, circulated an alert to student affairs deans at

all of our schools with information about possible suspects in the

attempted robbery.

As a community we mourn the loss of one of our members, and especially

of a young person with much to look forward to in a life of

promise. The University’s counseling services are available to anyone

who feels he or she could benefit from expert support in response to

this deeply sad event.  Please do not hesitate to visit Counseling and

Psychological Services on the 8th floor of Lerner Hall today from 1:00

– 5:00 p.m., or call at any time 212.854.2878 if you feel such

assistance would be helpful to you.

While incidents of crime have been significantly reduced in New York

over recent decades, and the area of Morningside Heights is within one

of the safest precincts in the city, it is nevertheless imperative

that we all take reasonable precautions appropriate to life in a large

metropolitan environment.  Our Department of Public Safety has worked

closely with the NYPD in safeguarding members of our University

Community and offers a range of services — including safety escorts,

evening shuttle buses and directed patrols — that help ensure

students, faculty and staff can both be, and feel, secure while

living, studying and working here.  We constantly review and seek to

improve public safety operations.  If you would like more information

on these services, go to: www.columbia.edu/cu/publicsafety, or call


The family of the graduate student has been notified.  We will begin

plans for a memorial event on campus.  For today, I know we are united

as a community in mourning the tragic loss of a young life.

Lee C. Bollinger

Tags: , ,


  1. !!!  

    oh my god! that's terrible!

  2. woah

    =( please post updates as soon as you get more info!

  3. random  

    so much for all that extra security

  4. what!?!  

    Oh my god...please keep us updated!

  5. ...

    Spec said that it was the mugger fleeing the scene of the crime who was hit by the car...

  6. um.......  

    no it doesn't...learn to read

  7. 323424222  

    Spec does not say "student," only "man."

  8. yeah but  

    it doesn't say student either (like the bwog headline does).

  9. roommate  

    It was a student.

  10. anonymous

    Dear Columbians:

    This is what happens when you support public housing. Please stop.

    • stop

      this isn't about public housing, this isn't about manhattanville, and this isn't about politics. this is about a person hit by a car. please go away.

      • anonymous

        People are less likely to run out into the street and get hit by cars if they don't have to run away from violent muggers.

        People would be less likely to have to run away from violent muggers if we didn't have public/subsidized housing in the area.

  11. spec  

    posted this story as well, but now it is gone. could that potentially be really bad news? i hope this poor guy makes it.

  12. argh  

    this is why living next to three housing projects in dangerous...

  13. Public Safety  

    needs to wake the fuck up. While the administration is focussing all its attention on a draconian alcohol policy and clamping down on underage drinking, violent crime this year has been off the charts. Wake up admins, and get your priorities straight.

  14. rest in peace  

    spec is reporting that the student died. http://www.columbiaspectator.com/node/30253

    this is incredibly sad.

  15. no words

    this is horrible.

  16. my condolences  

    what a terrible tragedy

  17. random  

    ton of security below 116th but relatively little above 120th

    • Thats

      because maintaining a visible security presence anywhere near Wash Heights/Harlem would be derided as being "racist" because we hate common sense in the face of an irrefutable reality which we skirt addressing properly.

    • true  

      which is a little weird, actually. below 116th you have the relative security of a ton of businesses nearby, so there are always people around you. but above 116th street, no businesses, just the edges of several campuses. i have a feeling that after this, we'll be seeing more security around those parts. if i'm picturing this right, he was waiting for a bus by teachers college, and i think there are several cameras near there, so hopefully one of the cameras caught a decent image of these scumbag muggers. let's hope they are caught soon. i am so sad for this guy and his family.

  18. no words

    this might sound sorta crazy, but i think columbia should work with the city to add call-boxes and cameras on broadway between 120 and 125 on broadway. there are a ton of students living up here(including myself), especially west of broadway, and the security isn't all that hot.

    this story really bothers me.

  19. why???  

    Why do all columbia students insist on focusing on the politics, statistics, and random facts of an incident right off the back? Could students at least show a little remorse for a brief moment before judging social conditions? The fact of the matter is that the mother, brothers, sisters, father, and family of a young man had to receive the news that their son is dead tonight. A person who had an unknown future will never be able to see what lies ahead. This is coming from a person that had someone very close die last year, and I know that regardless of the facts out there, death hurts and it is irreversible. I feel for this person's family, and I'm truly sorry for yet another pointless loss of life in the morningside heights neighborhood. Regardless of the future consequences, please, for once, take into account that a person is dead. Stop trying to focus on the little insignificant details that can no longer help a person who was doing fine up until 9:00 this evening.

    • no words

      i think we're all in a bit of shock right now, feeling collectively horrible for what happened.

      that said, there's nothing at all wrong with taking the situation to discuss these issues, especially when they're otherwise not discussed so to help minimize the possibility that something awful like this happens again.

      sorry, but it's only natural to start thinking about these things virtually immediately after something like this. it's part of the natural healing process. this isn't about social conditions or politics or whatever else you want to throw at what you believe columbia students can't get past. it's about addressing a situation in a forum like this, venting our frustrations, displaying grief and sadness, and articulating whatever thoughts we may have in an instant forum amongst peers.

      if you cannot grapple that and wish to instead focus on an unproductive and exclusive elongated moment of silence, by all means, go ahead. but doing so gets you nowhere.

      each of our posts recognize that a person is dead and how absolutley awful it is, beyond words. this discussion has done little to focus on so-called insignificant details.

  20. i wonder

    what Christien Tompkins would say about this. maybe the muggers weren't shown enough love and compassion and that we should welcome them into our community with open arms and love, and understand the repressed rage that they are unable to express that caused them to go out and mug people

  21. The King of Spain  

    He was GSAS, and this is really unfortunate.

  22. dole  

    thanks for the security columbia! this is gonna be great for this year's yield rate. maybe that'll get them to finally do something about the security around here. RIP student.

  23. no words

    i believe this is him, per the name released in spectator:


    didn't know him, but looked like a really great kid. i can't imagine what his friends and family are going through right now.

  24. ..................

    This is an isolated case, but a very sad one needless to say. In regards to #28, the self-proclaimed "Fuck," anytime you start calling people worthless based upon their poverty and skin color (and that is without question what you did), it is perverse to call yourself "politically incorrect," and avoid the more unseemly descriptors that you have so richly earned. You are a bigot. Your racism is paralleled only by your economic bigotry. Face facts.

    • anonymous

      I agree with you that the racism is entirely unwarranted, though one might justifiably cite 'thug culture' as a major causal factor.

      And it is only a matter of facing hard facts to recognize that public housing is the prime reason for these thugs being in the area. Compare this to parts of the city with very little to no public or subsidized housing - the difference is unmistakable.

  25. Grr

    Someone really needs to find these two guys and take them out "Most Dangerous Game" style...let us chase them with baseball bats through Riverside park for a while. #35 Face facts though...when I'm going home at night (and I live in Harlem) I cross the street when there are black 'thug' types in pairs or threes walking on the same side of the street. Statistically, in this neighborhood especially, it's not racist...it's smart. Because while I'm looking at these guys and saying "thugs" in my mind, if they are indeed thugs, they are looking at me as a white guy and thinking "rich, easy target" (also, racist?).
    Back to the second point: how fast was this guy going to knock this student 30ft in the air!? I'm so sick and tired of people in f'ing SUVs and cabs flying down Broadway, Amsterdam, etc at speeds well over 60mph and acting like you are little more than a speed bump! The helicopter pilot who was run down by a cab downtown last year didn't even get charged when several eyewitnesses said he was going well over the speed limit. Come on NYC! Enforce your speed limits and stop putting so much care and attention into writing parking tickets!

  26. wow

    This is just so sad. I live on 121st, I walk home at that time or later all the time, that's just so scary.
    The thing is, a lot of people who live uptown a bit walk home on Broadway rather than Amsterdam because Amsterdam is usually considered "sketchier" than Broadway. And the thing is, yeah, that's totally true below 116th, and there are more homeless dudes along Amsterdam, but once you get above 116th on Broadway, there's NOTHING. You're all by yourself after dark, very few people walking up there. And with all the construction now it's extra sketch. Amsterdam, on the other hand, has a lot of places that either stay open late or are 24/7. There's Radio Perfecto (no longer the bastion of security after the shooting incident, of course), on 119 there's Amsterdam Tapas and a CU security booth (which stays open until 9 or 10 but should be 24/7 IMO), Subsconscious is 24/7, Appletree is 24/7 (and has a CU security booth up top near Plimpton), Max Cafe and Max SoHa...like, you're never too far from other people, there's a lot more foot traffic. So please, guys, if you're walking uptown after dark, stick to Amsterdam.

  27. maybe  

    If security and public safety wasn't a bunch of lazy, pompous assholes who talk on streetcorners and don't give a shit about us, this wouldn't happen. I knew there was something wrong about coming to college in New York for four years, for a school that doesn't give a shit about us and our safety and is more willing to protect their own back for business purposes than to keep us FREAKING safe.

    Come on. UPenn has officers on every streetcorner all the way through campus and off campus. We live in harlem. You'd think that we could show them up a bit?

    • whoa  

      UPenn is really, really unsafe. A student was shot and killed last year. I'm serious, Columbia's security is WAY better. Don't be jealous of West Philly. I used to live in the University City area of Philly (where Penn is) and I knew several people who were mugged at gunpoint. It wasn't really a rare event, either.

    • public safety

      Just so you know, columbia has been consistently rated the safest urban university in the country. According to a non-profit safety organization survey in 2007, Harvard has 7 times the campus crime rate of columbia and Columbia earned an A rating. Unfortunate accidents happen, it has nothing to do with columbia public safety being lazy. It is simply impossible to police every corner of every street at every moment.

      • we'll see how that

        changes this year--with the murder at radio perfecto and this i would not fault any prospective students for thinking twice about attending columbia--especially the grad students who don't have the benefit of never having to leave the proper campus to get to their housing

        I'm an alum from last year and we had horrible incidents too--i remember a spec author writing about how he was mugged right in front of butler by a bunch of young black kids, there was the horrific journalism school rape case and locally (similiar to the radio perfecto incident) there was a drive by around lion's head

        however these seemed to be more spaced out--while in the context of he overall population some people may not find two serious incidents in a year horrible its going to be real hard to explain that to the family of what seemed to be a promising and vibrant young man who lost his life when all he'd wanted to do was study (by the way, i completely agree that if you're being mugged give up your money--that said there is no excuse on the muggers part for the heinous role they played)

        what a depressing day and situation

      • Well,  

        The statistics to which you are referring are heavily doctored. Most of the Ivys do this, but it would seem that we're cheating better than them.

      • Anonymous

        If you look at the columbia university crime statistics, http://www.columbia.edu/cu/publicsafety/crimestats2007.pdf
        the crime rates for robbery, burglary and aggravated assault have increased a lot for the past few years.

  28. oh and this  

    and our building public safety people at McBain freaking take naps in the STUDENT lounge.

    I'm just extremely frustrated. This kid that died obviously had so much potential. His parents much be wrenching their hearts out right now.

  29. this is  

    so frustrating and disgusting. my condolesences to this man's family, he could have gone so far. this is so so sad.

  30. 000000000000000  

    Rest In Peace.

  31. 9999999999999911  

    Fuck you! Just fuck you! Fuck anyone! There is no God. There just isn't. He had no chance. FUCK God.

  32. wwgs:

    Poor son of a bitch.

  33. wgwag

    "two black teens"

    Columbia must be sure to preserve their culture when they expand further into Harlem.

  34. john

    This is obviously caused by the decades of oppression that the Asian man has inflicted on the Black man.

    It's his own fault. Oppressor

  35. :-(  

    I can't even think of anything to say. Rest in peace.

  36. Stat student  

    You know, I understand the school of social work being located in a place that needs a shit-ton of social work, but why the fuck does the statistics department have to be so far uptown too? This is terrible.

    • Alum

      To answer your question, the statistics department is where it is for three reasons:

      1. The Mathematics building (where it used to be) was overcrowded;

      2. The new Social Work building had extra space, which is extremely rare at Columbia; and

      3. Social Work professors do a great deal of statistical research, so having the stat department in the same building should foster some worthwhile collaborations.

      The reason SSW is where it is has little to do with the need for social workers nearby. After all, it's a school and not a clinic. CU originally planned to keep SSW in McVickar and put up a second, larger building for it on the parking lot across the street. Neighbors protested, though (due to the size of the bulding, not the nature of the programs it would contain), and the university decided to move the school to a single building on a site that had informally been designated for an engineering building some time in the future.

      • Another Alum

        The SSW site was also supposed to be a new swim center for Columbia, which would have made the pool in Dodge for fitness use only...

        But those community activists put the kabosh on the site across from McVicar... screwing the needs of the University and its community.

        Given that the community likes to mug and kill Columbians, I think it's high time that Columbia said the following to the community:
        "Fuck You!"

  37. ridiculous  

    The press was just at the door (which they are not supposed to be able to get to) and when nobody answered the door they started bothering neighbors for the names of his roommates. Vultures.

  38. uptown

    the stretch of broadway from 116th to 125th is sketchy. why is there no security presence there? since columbia owns everything around here they could probably work harder on adding some 24-hour business on that strip also.

    also a fact-checking point: if he was at butler why was he so far north? if he's from stats it seems more likely he was coming from the stats dept (121st and amsterdam)

  39. Imagine  

    Being the driver of the SUV. Perhaps he was going a bit fast, but still, to have that on your conscious must be awful. Apparently the driver stayed on the scene and tried to help.

    I'm willing to bet he feels worse than the 2 teenage thugs.

    Anyone know if the teens could be charged with something like manslaughter for this?

  40. holy crap  

    he was my TA. Oh my god this is horrible. I can not believe this.

    • Wow

      I was just waiting for a comment from one of his former students. This is so, so sad.

      On the other hand, in response to #54, do you realize how disgusting it is to call what happened to this man an "unfortunate accident"? I'm sure the two guys trying to take his money would disagree with you. They aren't a thunder storm, or bricks falling off a building, they are two human beings who attacked another one.

      I hope they rot in jail and then hell.

      • Anonymous  

        In fact, since they almost certainly assaulted him in the process of mugging him, his death is felony murder, and they can easily go to jail for life.

        Thanks Law and Order.

        • good point  

          criminally negligent homicide is probably the BARE MINIMUM they will receive. If they're dealing with a harsh judge, and hopefully shitty defense attorneys, they'll get felony murder. Let's hope for it. They deserve nothing more than a torturous life from this day on out.

        • Noope  

          It makes me so angry that just because a couple of violent black thugs want a fucking iPod, they're willing to kill a man for it.

          In New York City we give them subsidized housing, free food stamps, free healthcare, and yet they still do this. Sick

  41. Hey  

    In case this might be helpful to anyone, I remember security saying at the beginning of the year that it was safer to take Amsterdam if walking north from 116th to 125th (they have a station near there, apparently) and safer to take Broadway south from 116th downwards. (Not that this is some sort of magical solution.)

    My sympathies for his friends and family.

    • Ams vs Broad  

      Amsterdam is safer on that stretch for a couple reasons. More people because of businesses. It's lighted a little better. and for at least a stretch of the night there a Public Safety officer on the corner of 121 and Amst.

  42. Also  

    people please please just give up your money. Nothing is worth your life.

  43. looking back

    at some older reports on another blog it looks like over the past year there have been multiple cases of 15-17 year old muggers in the local area

    I don't know if those are the same ones here or whether they were the same in all these cases, but its disturbing to say the least

  44. oops  

    i meant "nothing LESS than a torturous life..." etc. you all knew what I meant.

  45. Wishful thinking  

    Hey guys, these thugs have to be caught before they're charged with anything. Good luck with that.

    Remember:snitches are bitches

  46. alexw  

    Goddammit, Michelle Malkin is already licking her lips in anticipation of her article about this.

  47. bad quotes  

    there's no need to repeat the daily news' description/quote about mr. yu. have some respect.

  48. matt  

    Not the first time this has happened:

    "The death of a white New York University student who was struck by a car in East Harlem last week while allegedly fleeing a group of black would-be muggers crying "get the white boy" was not a hate crime, police said yesterday.

    Broderick Hehman, 20, a junior majoring in metropolitan studies, was struck by an automobile on April 1 when he fled into the street to escape. After slipping into a coma, he died three days later at Harlem Hospital. His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner on Thursday."


    • wow  

      about that NYU story:

      1. eerily similar.
      2. the suspects were charged with second degree murder...that surprises me. could the suspects in this case be charged with the same?

      • nyu story

        Weren't they charged with a hate crime? Because they yelled "Get whitey" or something to that effect.

        • the max

          sentence one received was three years (two off them got off with 18 mos) and all of them were juvenile sentences(some of them were very young - like 11-13 yrs old)--i don't think they were charged with hate crimes

          that entire trial was appalling...their parents, who were utter failures (the same kids were videotaped trashing a mcdonalds in another incident and were outside smoking pot before killing hehman), all tried to excuse them as being there by accident or being caught up in the wrong crowd-which is what i suspect will happen here (juvenile sentences and excuses)

        • ptm

          no hate crime. "get whitey" is not the same as "get nigger", which is what you'd need.

  49. thought  

    the death of a fellow student is a terrible and sad incident. let us, for once, get off our soapboxes and pay some respect to one of our own -- who's life was sadly extinguished last night.

  50. argh  

    horrible news...it's just very sad and upsetting. my condolences... and wishes that the muggers are punished.

  51. I will

    continue to place my faith in empirical evidence and statistical analysis by keeping a suspicious eye on all black thugs I see in the streets. God bless gentrification.

  52. DHI  

    Should 11-13 year olds be getting adult sentences in your opinion, or are you just commenting on the problems of juvenile crime?

  53. i should

    have been clearer. the 11-13 year old bit was just an explanation of the sentences--i generally agree kids that young should be tried as juveniles (though there were also two 15 year old charged in that case, and while i think in this case they also probably deserved juvenile sentences, at that point youre nearing the age where i feel adult sentences may sometimes be warranted)

    i was generally expressing my frustration with juvenile crime

  54. Anonymous

    preserve thug culture -- stop columbia expansion!

  55. recidivism  

    Read any Abnormal Psychology textbook and you'll see studies cited that show that anti-social behavior is pretty deeply ingrained, and does not decline, even in the face of punishment, therapy, or intervention, until middle age.

    Those thugs that were released in teh NYU student case will be back in jail in no time

  56. McFister

    They should issue every student pepper spray and show them how to use it.

  57. geez  

    wonder what Anthony Kelley will say about this-those thugs were justified because they had "rage"-what a hoot!

  58. I'm sorry  

    This is really so terrible.

    At the same time, though, I really think that some of these condemnations of both the surrounding community and the muggers are appropriate.

    These were a couple of punk ass kids that resorted to mugging people to make money. They didn't shove him into traffic, and I'm sure they didn't want to be responsible for a murder.

    They deserve jail time for manslaughter, but saying that some teenagers deserve a life in prison and deserve to rot in hell afterward for a mugging gone wrong really isn't right.

    • Huh?

      These violent thugs were beating the living shit out of him before he ran into the street to escape them.

      They chose to mug in the median of Broadway because they knew they could trap someone there.

      These are violent, anti-social criminals who don't give a rat's ass about human life.

      Let them out on the street and they'll harm more people.

      I hope these MURDERERS rot in jail, for society's sake.

    • In a few years  

      these pathetic excuses for human beings will go from mugging innocent people for ipods to killing others in broad daylight.

      Think about what the poor guy's family in China is going through. They probably sent him to Columbia hoping for the best, and now he's dead.

      The pieces of shit responsible should be killed if they are adults - no way should we support them while they rot in prison-, and get at least 20 years if they are minors.

      • I really  

        don't understand how the progression from mugging people for their ipods to killing people in broad daylight takes place.

        This was a tragedy. Rallying around the cause of killing more people won't do anything useful.

        • The progression  

          Well in my opinion, there are really three plausible outcomes for these muggers:
          A) They'll mend their criminal ways and become upstanding members of society
          B) They'll remain petty criminals (and accidentally kill more people)
          C) They'll become even bigger criminals, and will cause many more deaths (gang warfare, drug dealing, etc)

          Which do you think will happen? I'm betting B or C, both of which will end with them causing even more deaths.

        • from

          what i can tell it probably deals with the nature of how they tried to mug him

          usually muggers will give up if they see a person start to fight or run--these guys held him there and then reportedly beat the heck out of him--yeah they didn't push him into traffic but i imagine in his last moments Mr. Yu was faced with a decision over the possibility the punching and kicking he was facing would become even more violent (not to mention he was facing two of them) or trying to get away from what was a violent and brutal situation as fast as he could. I think most rational people would have made the decision he did, and he lost his life because of it. Whether youre going to charge these attackers (even if Mr. Yu hadn't died they'd be charged with more than just robbery--probably assault amongst other things) with manslaughter vs. murder does probably depend on the details and probably is a subjective issue but regardless of their intentions there is no doubt they were partially and probably wholly responsible for his death. Intent or premeditation isn't necessary for a murder charge--and i think there would be a legitimate push for 2nd degree murder here (like in the nyu case).

          otherwise there's certainly a correlation between those who served time as minors for less serious crimes and those who commit more serious ones when they get older.

          unfortunately recidivism doesn't naturally become any less likely once you turn 18

      • Even worse  

        he may even be their only child, because well you know.

  59. Huh?

    What I mean to say is that I don't know or care what they deserve, but I know that society and innocent law-abiding people deserve to be protected from these menaces.

  60. ...  

    what a terrible tragedy. my heart goes out to the victim, his family and friends, the driver of the vehicle and the perpetrators, who may have been up to no good but very likely never intended for something like this to happen.

  61. here're

    a couple more articles about him. They talk a little more about who he was which is always sometimes lost in tragedies like this. I think its important at least to recognize how good a representative and part of the columbia community he was


  62. interesting...

    I must say I'm surprised at how much latent resentment there is here against the surrounding community- this being an avowedly liberal forum (and frequently one that is overtly intolerant of conservative points of view). The liberals which predominate hee today are certainly not the liberals of '68.

    • well

      According to the article above, the kid they arrested for killing Minghui Yu was 13. If 13 year olds are out in the street attacking and killing people, it's a sign the community has some problems.... problems a lot worse than gentrification and the Manhattanville project.

    • Hey Mr. Liberal  

      First of all, I'm disgusted by your insinuations about conservative ideals. Who is the one harboring resentment and hatred with that?

      #112 said it best. That a 13 year old is responsible for the random beating of someone which led to his death is evidence of a problem within the community.

      I don't condemn everyone for the actions of a few, but I do question what is going on around here that we allow, maybe even create, children capable of horrific random hate.

      If this were the other way around, everyone would be screaming bias, racism, and other things that Columbians would be made to feel shameful for (regardless of whether or not we were responsible). Why is it so wrong then for us to feel a little outrage in our sorrow for the loss of someone so kind?

  63. ...  

    I think the solution is to gentrify all of northern Manhattan.

    Hopefully within a few decades, property prices will have soared to such levels that blacks can no longer afford to live anywhere near Columbia.

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