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Hundreds attend vigil for Purdue student killed on campus

Varun Chheda was murdered Wednesday in his on-campus dorm room.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — They sat quietly, holding candles and heads bowed in silence in front of Purdue’s Unfinished P sculpture on campus, a symbol of all the students who don’t get to finish their Purdue experience. 

“We will go through this together, in unity as a Boilermaker family,” Dr. Pamela Sari, a Purdue professor and part of the school’s Asian Resource and Cultural Center told the hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil.

Varun Chheda was on their minds. He was killed Wednesday morning in his on-campus dorm room. Police say Chheda’s roommate, also a Purdue student, is accused in his murder. 

Investigators are still trying to figure out what happened. It’s a tragedy many learned of when they woke up Wednesday morning. 

RELATED: 'I love my family' | Purdue University student arrested for murder of roommate in residence hall

“I think people are just in shock. My sister was in class today and she said the girl next to here just wouldn’t stop crying,” said student Claire Schnefke. 

“There’s definitely been a silence on campus,” added Lily Brodzinski, who’s also a student. 

That silence continued into the night, even among those who came to pay their respects. People barely spoke as they left flowers and notes of condolence. 

Many of the students who came to the vigil didn’t know the data science major who was set to graduate this year, but they wanted to come and show their support. 

“Purdue shows up for each other, and we’re all a very supportive community,” said Schnefke. 

“Everyone is just grieving and just mourning and so they’re just trying to fully understand and just get the realization of what has happened because it’s affected everyone on campus,” added Kamanda Mosongo. 

“We’re just here to be a community together and help each other heal,” added Lily Brodzinski. 

It’s something these students never expected they’d have to do over the death of one of their own. 

“The death of any Boilermaker is one too many,” said Schnefke. 

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