Before coming to Columbia, Minghui studied at USTC in China, in the Special Class for the Gifted Young.
At Columbia, Minghui was admitted to the Physics Department, but transferred to Statistics in the Fall of 2007. He served on the 2007-2008 working committee of the CUCSSA, and was also a TA for the statistics department.
Circumstances of death
On April 4, 2008, Minghui was waiting at a bus stop at 122nd St. and Broadway shortly before 9pm when three young Afro-American teenage males approached him. One of the males kept watch while the others assaulted and attempted to rob Mr Yu. MingHui Yu refused to give up his belongings, and the two attackers punched him in the face and kicked him. Minghui then attempted to flee from his attackers in desperation, however ran onto the street into the path of on-comming traffic. He was struck by a Jeep Cherokee. He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital but passed away as a result of the severe head trauma he sustained.
The motivation for the attack remains unclear. While initially it was reported as an attempted mugging, later accounts strongly suggest that the attack had racial overtones,with the defendant stating "look what I did to that one" to his accomplices after the attack.
Investigation and aftermath
The driver who struck Minghui stopped at the scene and gave assistance. No charges were filed against him. An NYPD investigation is underway and is being supported by the Department of Public Safety. Images of the attackers were caught on several security cameras on buildings in the area by the Department of Public Safety.
One of Minghui's assailants, 14-year-old Afro-American J.Sheldon, was been arrested and charged with manslaughter. He faced the charge in juvenile court.He has pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter.
MingHui Yu's family in China has been notified, and efforts are being made to bring them to the United States. A vigil was held on campus on April 7.