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Chicago Booth Student Killed In A Shooting Spree

John A. Byrne
·5 min read

The Charles M. Harper Center, which houses the Chicago Booth School of Business pictured on Friday, May 5, 2017, in Chicago. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

A Ph.D. student in his fourth year of study at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business was shot and killed yesterday (Jan. 9). Yiran Fan tragically lost his life after being shot by an emotionally disturbed man who did not know the student.

Yiran Fan, a fourth-year Ph.D. student at Chicago Booth

Born in China, the 30-year-old Fan came to the U.S. to pursue an academic career after briefly working in Beijing for J.P. Morgan First Capital. When he began Booth’s Ph.D. program in financial economics in 2017, he had already earned master’s degrees in financial engineering from Cambridge University and in financial mathematics from the University of Chicago. Fan had earned his bachelor’s degree in finance in 2012.

He was murdered in a shooting spree on Saturday that left at least four people dead, including the gunman, and at least four others in critical condition. The man police believe was responsible for the shootings, identified as 32-year-old Jason Nightengale, was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire with police outside of an International House of Pancakes restaurant in nearby Evanston where Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is located.

STUDENT WAS SHOT DEAD SITTING IN HIS CAR IN A PARKING GARAGE

The bloodshed began in the 5300 block of South East End Avenue in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood at approximately 1:50 p.m. Saturday when Nightengale entered a parking garage and randomly picked out Fan who was sitting inside his car. Nightengale, whose relatives told local media that he was mentally disturbed, then went on to randomly kill several others, including a female security guard and a 20-year-old man. He also shot a 15-year-old girl in the head and a 77-year-old woman who was retrieving her mail. Both women are in critical condition.

Jason Nightengale in a 2018 booking photo from the Chicago Police Department

Chicago Booth Dean Madhav Rajan announced the tragedy to the Booth community today (Jan. 10). It is with a very heavy heart that I write to inform you that Yiran Fan, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Joint Program in Financial Economics, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, January 9, 2021,” wrote Madhav. “As you may have read in the message from the university, Yiran was tragically shot and killed, and police report the suspected gunman has been killed.

Madhav called Fan “a longtime member of the Booth and Economics communities…Yiran is remembered as a smart and incredibly talented student, highly respected by his peers and beloved by all who knew him. He worked closely with Professor Zhiguo He and was hoping to propose his dissertation later this year. Projects that Yiran was working on include research on the interaction of bankers’ assets and liability management, and studying screening competition under flexible information acquisition.”

‘THIS SUDDEN AND SENSELESS LOSS OF LIFE CAUSES US INDESCRIBABLE SORROW’

Fan also served as a teaching assistant during the Autumn Quarter, and he served as the Fama-Miller Professional Development Fellow for the 2020-21 academic year, working with research professionals on their professional development. Before becoming a Ph.D. student at Booth, Yiran was on staff as a research professional at the Fama-Miller Center for Research in Finance.

In an email to school alumni, university President Robert Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee said Fan was looking forward to proposing his dissertation later in the year. “This sudden and senseless loss of life causes us indescribable sorrow. In the days ahead we will come together as a community to mourn, and to lift up fellow members of our community in this difficult and very sad time,” the pair wrote in the email.

The full statement from Chicago Booth Dean Rajan follows:

To the Chicago Booth community:

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to inform you that Yiran Fan, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Joint Program in Financial Economics, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, January 9, 2021. As you may have read in the message from the university, Yiran was tragically shot and killed, and police report the suspected gunman has been killed.

A longtime member of the Booth and Economics communities, Yiran is remembered as a smart and incredibly talented student, highly respected by his peers and beloved by all who knew him. He worked closely with Professor Zhiguo He and was hoping to propose his dissertation later this year. Projects that Yiran was working on include research on the interaction of bankers’ assets and liability management, and studying screening competition under flexible information acquisition.

Yiran also served as a Teaching Assistant during the Autumn Quarter, and he served as the Fama-Miller Professional Development Fellow for the 2020-21 academic year, working with current research professionals on their professional development. Before becoming a Ph.D. student at Booth, Yiran was on staff as a research professional at the Fama-Miller Center for Research in Finance.

The entire Booth community mourns with Yiran’s family and friends. Counseling services will be provided to students, and we will follow up with details.

We also will follow up with plans to honor Yiran’s life on a future date.

Madhav

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