WASHINGTON – A female Chinese graduate student was decapitated by a fellow student in a campus cafe at Virginia Tech, the scene of the worst school shooting in US history in 2007, police said.
At approximately 7:00 pm Wednesday (0000 GMT Thursday), Yang Xin, a 22-year-old graduate student from Beijing, was killed at an Au Bon Pain cafe on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, university officials said.
They added that emergency contact records suggest that Yang and the student who murdered her, Zhu Haiyang from Ningbo, China, knew each other. According to officials, witnesses said Zhu, 25, attacked Yang with a knife.
"There were seven witnesses in the cafe. There had been no argument, no shouting" when the young woman was attacked, said Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski, confirming that Yang had been decapitated.
The Collegiate Times, the university's newspaper, said police received a 911 emergency call minutes after the assault and the officer who arrived at the scene found Yang's head had been cut off. The murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, was found at the scene.
In a copy of a police affidavit published by the Collegiate Times, the officer said that when she arrived at the scene she found Zhu holding Yang's head in his hand.
"This is horrible and tragic. Especially when we know that Virginia Tech has got its share of hardship and horror," Owczarski said.
In April 2007, Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech student born in South Korea, shot 32 fellow classmates and teachers to death before killing himself.
"Once again we are challenged as a community to offer support to one another as we process this recent event. Once again we will rise to the occasion," Virginia Tech president Charles Steger said in a statement, saying the university community was "shocked" by the murder.
In a condolence statement, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine said that the latest attack "has no doubt revived terrible memories for countless members of the Hokie family."
Zhu was charged with first-degree murder and was being held at a county jail. He had not had a record with university or local police, the school indicated.
Yang had arrived at Virginia Tech in early January to begin studies in accounting. Zhu was a PhD graduate student in agriculture and applied economics.