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Man Arrested in Possible Road Rage Related Slaying of Yale Graduate Student and Army Veteran

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Natalie Frank, Ph.D.
Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

A suspect has been apprehended in the possible road rage related murder of a newly engaged Yale graduate student and army veteran which occured last February in New Haven, Connecticut.
Kevin JiangYale University

New Haven, Connecticut Qinxuan Pan, the fugitive wanted in the murder of Kevin Jiang, a Yale University student has been arrested in Alabama. An international arrest warrant had been issued by U.S. Marshalls for Pan as there was concern that the suspect, born in Shanghai, could have fled to China. Massachusetts court documents showed that Pan had allegedly stolen a vehicle from a car dealership the day Jiang was murdered, taking it for a test drive but instead crossing state lines resulting in the added charge of larceny. U.S. Marshals had been offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the direct location and arrest of Pan.

Jiang was found in New Haven near his car, which had been rear ended and damaged. Neighbors said they heard multiple gunshots, at least seven, with pauses between the shots.

Pan, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher, is accused of firing multiple rounds at Jiang, a 26-year-old second-year graduate student at Yale’s School of the Environment who was completeing his Thesis research on mercury levels in fish. Jiang was also an Army veteran who had recently become engaged to be married.

On the day of his death, Jiang reportedly was with his fiancée, Zion Perry, another Yale graduate student whom he had proposed to just a week earlier. While it’s been assumed the murder was a case of road rage gone bad, there is some question about whether there was more to it. This is because there appears to have been some contact between Pan and Perry.

A photograph that has surfaced shows Perry who completed her undergraduate degree at MIT, talking with Pan at a university swing dance in March 2020. Authorities have not revealed any other potential connections.

Several days after the murder, police said Pan was observed in the Atlanta suburbs driving with family members and “acting strange”. Interpol issued a “red notice” for Pan, asking member nations to arrest him on murder and larceny charges should he try to enter enter their country.

Connecticut has been voted the 5th worst state for road rage. It's been estimated that 5.7 percent of Connecticut’s accidents that prove fatal are due to aggressive driving and road rage. Native Connecticut students at the University of New Haven seem to agree that driving on the roads can be dangerous due to aggressive drivers.

“It’s definitely a problem, people need to find new ways to express their anger on the road,” said freshman fire science major Conor Duncan.

Road Rage Is a Serious Problem in the U.S.

Aggressive driving and the more serious condition of road rage, are extremely common on America’s roadways. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s most recent survey, nearly 80 percent of participants had experienced significant anger, aggression or road rage while behind the wheel at least once in the previous year. In a news release a spokesperson for AAA stated, “Aggressive driving has increasingly become a major cause of concern for many road users.”

Around 3 percent of drivers surveyed reported ramming or bumping into another vehicle intentionally during the previous year, which, if the findings generalize, would translate to about 5.7 million U.S. drivers. About 4 percent of participants admitted to getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver at least once in the past year, which would translate to around 7.6 million drivers in the U.S. At the same time, AAA suggests that the true prevalence may be higher because drivers may not be willing to admit to instances of road rage and aggressive driving due to social-desirability bias.

According to the survey, these were the most commonly reported types of road rage:

  • 51% tailgated on purpose
  • 48% drove 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway
  • 47% yelled at another driver
  • 45% honked to show annoyance or anger
  • 34% followed too closely to prevent another vehicle from merging
  • 33% made angry gestures
  • 31% drove through a red light
  • 28% merged into traffic even when another driver tried to close the gap
  • 26% switched lanes quickly or very closely behind another vehicle
  • 25% sped up when a vehicle tried to pass
  • 24% blocked another vehicle from changing lanes
  • 22% passed in front of a vehicle at less than a car length
  • 12% cut off another vehicle intentionally

How to Avoid Conflicts When Driving

AAA made this statement about how best to avoid conflicts when driving and how to handle conflicts if they do occur:

“You will see other drivers doing things that are illegal, inconsiderate and even incomprehensible. Don’t respond personally,” AAA said. “Most drivers are not thinking about their impact on you; they are just rushed, distracted or upset. Remaining calm and courteous behind the wheel lowers your risk of an unpleasant encounter – with another driver and with law enforcement.”

What to Do If You are Confronted By an Angry Motorist

Here are some additional tips on what to do to remain safe If a confrontation unfolds:

  • Avoid eye contact with angry drivers.
  • Don’t respond to aggression with aggression unless you have no choice but to defend yourself against harm.
  • Do not lose your cool or make any threatening or offensive gestures.
  • If you are in danger, drive to a public place such as a police station, hospital or fire station and honk the horn to get someone’s attention but remain in the locked vehicle.
  • When parking, allow room to be able to pull out safely should someone approach aggressively.
  • If you feel threatened, call 911.

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