April 26th, 2010 | News, University

Postdoc killed outside Branford, Conn., home; suspect charged

A police car stands by outside Toor's home, the site of Monday's murder in Branford, Conn.
A police car stands by outside Toor's home, the site of Monday's murder in Branford, Conn. Photo by Colin Ross.

Updated: 7:05 p.m.

BRANFORD, Conn. — Vajinder Toor, 34, a postdoctoral clinical fellow at the School of Medicine, was shot and killed outside his home in Branford, Conn., this morning.

Lishan Wang, 44, originally of Beijing, is being charged with the murder.
Lishan Wang, 44, originally of Beijing, is being charged with the murder.
“Never anything happens here,” said Kalani Lopa, who lives a few houses away from the Toor family.
“Never anything happens here,” said Kalani Lopa, who lives a few houses away from the Toor family.

Branford Police have detained Lishan Wang, 44, a Chinese national from Beijing whose last known address is Marietta, Ga. Wang is being charged with murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, carrying weapons in a motor vehicle, carrying a handgun without a permit and unlawful discharge of a firearm. He is being held on $2 million bond and will be arraigned in New Haven Superior Court on Tuesday.

Branford Police Lt. Geoffrey Morgan said the homicide is not related to Yale but is also not a random act; he said it is most likely related to previous job-related disputes Toor was involved in when he worked in New York City.

“Our hypothesis, which the detectives are still working on, is that there was a connection between the victim and the shooter, but not one which was in any way related to Yale,” Morgan said.

Shortly before 8 a.m., a man shot Toor multiple times in the parking lot outside Toor’s condominium and also tried but failed to shoot Toor’s wife. The couple has a three-year-old child, and Toor’s wife is six months pregnant, according to police.

The murder occurred in the Meadows, a quiet Branford condominium complex where violence of any kind, let alone a shooting, is a foreign concept, a resident said.

“Never anything happens here,” said Kalani Lopa, who lives a few houses away from the Toor family.

Neighbors near Toor’s condo on Blueberry Lane in Branford heard the shots and immediately called the police, who stopped the shooter near the Meadows condominium complex as the suspect, Wang, was attempting to flee in a van. After seeing firearms in plain sight in the vehicle, police arrested the driver.

“I was looking out my window, where I have coffee, yesterday morning when I saw a red van driving around,” Lopa added.

Asked if he thought the presence of the van yesterday indicated that Wang had been carefully surveilling the area before the crime, Lopa answered: “Definitely.”

Toor, 34, was a first-year fellow in the infectious diseases section of the Department of Internal Medicine at the School of Medicine. According to the department’s website, Toor graduated in 2001 from the Guru Govind Singh Medical College in Punjab, India, and in 2008 from Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in New York.

“We all extend our condolences to Vajinder’s family, friends, and colleagues,” Yale Police Chief James Perrotti said in a campuswide e-mail.

Toor’s death is the second apparent homicide of a member of the School of Medicine community this year after Annie Le GRD ’13, who was was studying for a Ph.D. in pharmacology, was found dead in September in the Yale research facility where she worked.

“This has been very sudden and a shock to us all,” said Nancy Angoff, the School of Medicine’s associate dean of student affairs.

Ten members of the Yale medical community who were interviewed said that they were shocked by the murder, and five said they would be more cautious.

“We are all one big community,” said Leslie Lang, a medical technologist in Yale-New Haven Hospital. “It really does make you feel uneasy and unsafe at times.”

But the others interviewed said they do not feel the need to be more vigilant because the murder is not related to either Yale or the Annie Le case. Mathew Ventura, a genetic accountant at the medical school, said while he is not too concerned about safety, he will take a second look if anything appears strange.

Lindsey Raymond and Baobao Zhang contributed reporting.