Yesterday, at 5:12PM, while I was sitting in the law library, panicking over the last sentences of my final exam for this semester, only a few blocks away a 23-year old boy, Mohan Varughese, a student from Penn State, was sitting with his girlfriend on the front steps of her off-campus apartment near Temple University, no doubt luxuriating in the perfect spring sun.
The semester was almost at an end, final examinations ended in two days and already the campus had a deserted look about it. The few people left to tend the campus were mainly university employees. The security guards. The maintenance crews, finally able to swab the floors without interruption. Outside, you could hear the cries of children, playing hopscotch and jumping rope double-dutch style in the streets, pausing every now and then to let cars go by.
Next to Mohan sat his brand-new, bright red motorcycle, which I imagine he cherished with all the love a 23-year old boy has for such things. A man approaches, demands the keys. Mohan refuses, according to police reports, says, “Don’t do this, man.” Three shots. They hit his neck and chest. As neighbors come running, his girlfriend cradles his head in her lap. At 5:45, Mohan Varghese is pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital.
Mohan, a former Temple student himself, was celebrating the end of his last semester at Penn State. This coming Friday, he had plans to join his family, including his twin brother, at graduation, where he would receive his a degree in Psychological and Social Sciences. He had just secured a job as a youth counselor. Tonight, Philadelphia will mourn his death. A family will grieve for a lost son. Friends, their brother. My heart goes out to them.