Arrests made in connection to murder of Syracuse University student

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Xiaopeng "Pippen" Yuan was murdered behing the Springfield Garden Apartments on Caton Drive in late September.

Two arrests have been made in connection to the murder of Syracuse University student Xiaopeng “Pippen” Yuan.

Cameron Isaac, 23, of North Syracuse and Ninimbe Mitchell, 20, of North Syracuse have each been charged with murder in the second degree, robbery in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

There is a “very good possibility” their charges will be upgraded to murder in the first degree as it was an intentional killing, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Friday morning at a press conference.

The two suspects arranged to meet Yuan, a 23-year-old SU student from Beijing, at the Springfield Garden Apartments in Dewitt for what was believed to be a drug transaction, Onondaga County Sheriff Eugene Conway said Friday. Isaac and Mitchell are then suspected of robbing Yuan before shooting and killing him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Yuan was found dead behind the Springfield Garden Apartments located on Caton Drive on Sept. 30. Drugs were in Yuan’s car upon the arrival of law enforcement, which led them to believe there had been a drug transaction gone wrong, Conway said.

Yuan had prior contact with one of the suspects and arranged to meet with him, Conway said. Fitzpatrick emphasized that the murder was not a “random slaying” and said the SU community should not feel in danger.

“This is not something we expect to be repeated,” he said.

In a statement to the SU community, Dean of Student Affairs Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz and Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado reiterated that point, calling the crime an isolated incident. They also called the arrests of Isaac and Mitchell the “first step toward justice for Xiaopeng.”

“We continue to keep Xiaopeng’s family, friends and loved ones in our thoughts and hope today’s news will help them as they continue to mourn this loss,” they said in the statement.

Yuan’s parents, who visited Syracuse following his death, have been notified of the arrests, Conway said.

The weapon used in the murder has not yet been recovered, and Fitzpatrick said whoever has the weapon or knows of its whereabouts has 48 hours to turn it in and avoid facing an arrest.

Isaac and Mitchell were each arraigned in the Town of Dewitt Court and are currently being held in the Onondaga County Justice Center without bail. Depending on the decisions of their lawyer, the suspects will either have a preliminary hearing in five days or the case will be presented to a grand jury “sometime in the near future,” Fitzpatrick said.


Top Stories