A person of interest in the murder of a Yale student allegedly stole a car from a dealership the day of the killing – but police didn't know that when they helped him tow the car in question and left him at his hotel later that evening.
MIT graduate student Qinxuan Pan had visited several car dealerships in the days before the fatal shooting of Yale student Kevin Jiang, New Haven police said in an email to the New Haven Register. He’d taken cars on test drives and even driven them to his mechanic for inspection.
Pan left a dealership in Mansfield, Massachusetts around 11 a.m. the day of Jiang's murder with a blue GMC Terrain, according to a police report viewed by the Register. Authorities said he never brought it back.
Pan's salesman tried contacting him around 5:30 p.m. that day, Feb. 6, but Pan said he’d had a family emergency and needed more time, according to the report. After the salesman told him he needed to return the vehicle before the dealership closed, he allegedly stopped responding to texts and calls.
Kevin Jiang was fatally shot outside his fiancée’s New Haven apartment around 8:30 p.m. Shortly after that, police in neighboring North Haven found Pan stuck on railroad tracks with a flat tire, North Haven Police Chief Kevin Glenn told the New Haven Independent.
Police checked the vehicle and found it to be properly registered, then called Pan a tow truck and escorted him back to a nearby hotel, Glenn said.
Back at the dealership, meanwhile, Pan’s salesman had called police about the unreturned car around 7:30 p.m. But, because the salesman didn't think Pan had designs on stealing the car, the officer in charge of the case delayed reporting the incident in order to give Pan “a chance to contact [him] or to return the vehicle,” according to the police report.
The officer followed up with the dealership at 10:30 p.m. before reporting the vehicle as stolen, according to the police report. By this point, North Haven police had already left Pan at the hotel – and when they returned to question him, he was gone.
A nationwide manhunt is currently underway for Pan, who was last seen with his family around the Duluth or Brookhaven areas of Georgia, according to a press release by the U.S. Marshals Service. He’s been charged with interstate theft of a vehicle and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Pan has not been named a suspect in Jiang’s murder. However, he is considered a “person of interest” in the case and is wanted for questioning, according to a media release by the New Haven Police Department.
The Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Pan’s arrest, according to NBC News. He is considered armed and dangerous.
Anyone with information on this case should contact the Marshals Service at (877) 926-8332 or the New Haven homicide unit at (203) 946-6304.
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