Daniele Gilke, who worked with Pitcairn and counted him as a friend, said he had been in New York visiting his sister, something he did often. She said he had applied to several medical schools, shadowed a prominent Hopkins transplant surgeon and taught MCAT classes twice a week.
"Stephen always struck me as a person who didn't believe in obstacles," she wrote in an e-mail.
Dr. Edward D. Miller, dean and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, called Pitcairn's death a "tragedy for his family, his friends, for our institution and for science" and expressed hope for a rapid arrest and conviction.
"This is a terrible, terrible loss," Miller said in a statement.
There have been several high-profile incidents involving Hopkins students, including a break-in at a student's off-campus house last fall in which an intruder was killed with a samurai sword. Fraternity member Christopher B. Elser was killed in 2004 after a struggle with a knife-wielding burglar. The next year, a man fatally beat student Linda Trinh. The two student deaths prompted the university to beef up security on and off campus.
"The loss of any member of our Johns Hopkins community impacts us all," Ronald J. Daniels, president of the university, said in a statement. "But the loss of a vital young man of such potential, intent on dedicating his life to helping others, is especially tragic. Everyone at the university joins me in expressing our sympathies to Stephen's family, colleagues and friends."
Pitcairn's relatives in Florida declined to comment.
Sun reporters Peter Hermann and Brent Jones contributed to this article.
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