As mystery still shrouds the weekend shooting death of 26-year-old Yale University graduate student Kevin Jiang, his fiancée spoke out Tuesday, describing his deep Christian faith and dedicated volunteer work at a church in New Haven, saying she has “no idea” why someone might have targeted him.
“All I want to say is that I just want Jesus to be glorified and that Kevin was really an on-fire follower of Jesus and to me, that’s what his life represents,” Zion Perry said in a phone interview with Fox News. “A life lived following after God, and I hope that many people can know that he truly followed the Lord and that his life will inspire many to follow Jesus and to come closer to the Father.
“Because I know Kevin is with his true Father now in Heaven,” she continued. “That’s all I really want people to know that Jesus would be glorified through his death — even though I know that sounds impossible — I know that Jesus and God can do anything.”
Jiang proposed to Perry on Jan. 30 — one year after they first met. He was killed a week later. His 27th birthday would have been this week.
New Haven police said officers responded at 8:30 p.m. Saturday to the area of Lawrence Street, between Nicoll and Nash streets, after receiving multiple 911 calls about gunshots. EMS attempted life-saving measures, but Jiang was pronounced dead at the scene.
So far, no suspects have been publicly announced or taken into custody, and authorities have released limited details about a motive.
At a news conference Monday, New Haven Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said Jiang might have been targeted and that his killing was not random.
Kevin Jiang was a graduate student at the Yale School of the Environment, as a member of the class of 2022 (Yale University Police Department)
“We have developed information suggesting that this incident may not have been a random act and that he was in fact targeted,” Reyes said. “That being said, it is too early in the investigation to establish any motive whatsoever.”
Jiang was operating a vehicle before the shooting, Reyes confirmed, adding that investigators “are exploring every possibility, including whether an accident precipitated this incident” or whether the shooting was an instance of road rage. Acknowledging speculation surrounding the incident, Reyes said investigators are exploring “very specific leads” but are not ruling out anything at this time.
Perry told Fox News she did not know anything about why someone would target her fiancé.
“I’m trying to make sense of that too. I really have no idea, and unfortunately, I don’t have any information to share about that,” she said.
A police spokesperson told Fox News Tuesday the most up-to-date information was disclosed at the news conference and any and all future updates will be released on the department’s Facebook page.
“Providing further details may compromise the investigation,” the spokesperson said.
Jiang was a graduate student at the Yale School of the Environment as a member of the class of 2022. He and his mother, who moved from Seattle in 2019 to live by her son while he attended graduate school, both were active volunteers at Trinity Baptist Church on State Street.
Jiang served in the U.S. Army National Guard, distributed food and cooked for a homeless shelter, mentored youth and helped manufacturers “comply with local and federal environmental laws,” Yale University Peter Salovey said at the news conference Monday, alongside Reyes and others. He said Jiang was conducting research on mercury levels in fish in the Quinnipiac River watershed.
“He used his education to make a positive difference in the world,” Salovey said.
Perry explained that she and Jiang met at a church retreat: “We both happened to go to and God allowed us to meet there and from there we formed a really deep friendship.” She said Jiang grew up in both Chicago and Seattle, where he attended the University of Washington for his undergraduate education before relocating to New Haven to attend graduate school at Yale University.
In a Jan. 30 Facebook post announcing their engagement, Jiang wrote, “She said “YES!” Zion sweetheart – you’ve really made a huge impact in my life! Ever since I met you, God has been working in my heart and changing my heart for the better, helping me become more generous and kinder to others.”
“You are the most kind, beautiful, forgiving, patient, faithful woman I’ve ever met,” he continued, sharing photos and videos of him getting down on one knee in front of a snowy waterfall. “I love you more than words can say. I want to care for you and serve you, and build God’s kingdom with you. Thank you for such a wonderful happy one-year anniversary of meeting, and now fiancé!!!!!!!!”
Perry said details about his funeral service and any memorial fund are still being finalized.
Trinity Baptist Pastor Greg Hendrickson told the New Haven Independent that he had just agreed earlier in the week to officiate Jiang’s wedding, but “now, we will be officiating his funeral instead.”