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Slain Penn State Abington student was set to graduate Friday

Mohan Varughese worked hard for his prized Kawasaki motorcycle.

Mohan Varughese worked hard for his prized Kawasaki motorcycle.

The 23-year-old Bustleton native bought the shiny red Ninja with tips earned parking cars at a Center City restaurant. He got it last summer, just in time for his final year at Penn State Abington, where he was set to graduate Friday with a psychology degree.

Monday afternoon, someone else wanted it and killed him over it.

Varughese was visiting his girlfriend, a Temple University student, at a house on the 2200 Block of North Camac Street, a few blocks north of Temple. The couple was sitting on the steps in the sun. His bike was parked on the curb.

A man put a gun to his face, demanding the keys.

Varughese said, 'Don't do this,' according to police.

The gunman repeated his demands and the shot Varughese in the chest and cheek.

The killer didn't take the bike. He just shot Varughese for not moving quick enough and then ran away, said Homicide Capt. James Clark said.

"A cold-blooded killer," said Clark, who described the suspect as a black male in his early 20s, heavily tattooed, including a teardrop tattoo under his left eye.

Tuesday morning, grieving relatives and friends held a prayer vigil at the Varughese home, located on a quiet street off Welsh Road. Vaughese commuted to school and lived with his parents. Three religious candles burned on the sidewalk in front of his house, while the family, which is of Indian descent, held a prayer vigil inside. The family did not wish to speak to the media, said a relative.

Varughese's college buddies mourned a friend they described as outgoing and full of life. George Mejia, also a senior at Abington recalled softball games and fishing trips with Varughese, and the Halloween when Varughese styled his hair in a bowl cut and went as rapper Rick Ross.

Parking fancy cars as a valet motivated Varughese to save harder for his bike, Mejia said.

"That motorcycle was his pride and joy," he said.

Varughese was cautious about taking his motorcycle when visiting his girlfriend, his friends said.

During a visit late last year, his late model Honda Civic was stolen. His schoolbooks and papers were lost in that theft.

Varughese scored a perfect semester of straight A's in his final grading period, said his psychology thesis adviser, Michael Bernstein.

"He was especially motivated and enthusiastic, very prepared to be taking on the world," Bernstein said.

Varughese had recently landed a job working as a youth counselor and wanted to use his degree to help underprivileged kids, his teacher said.

For his thesis, Varughese wrote about "mortality salience," the study of how people deal with the eventuality of their own deaths.

He found that awareness of death can make people embrace life.

"Maybe thinking about dying at an early age could actually increase a person's mood and self-esteem," he wrote. "Thinking about how short life is might lead people to also think about the things that are really important."

On Tuesday afternoon, blood still spotted the Camac street cement where Varughese fell.

The small street is a mix of long-term residents and Temple students, who recently moved in.

Four homes on the street are being renovated, and while fleeing the scene Monday, Varughese's killer had to jump over construction workers in a hole in the street.

"This is the frontier," said Temple sophomore Marl Elofer, who heard the shots from his rented apartment across the street.

Most Temple students live west of Broad Street, he said, but recently more have been finding home on the northeast side of Broad, he said.

One of his roommates was robbed a few months ago at gunpoint while sitting on the front steps, Elofer said. Now the group is moving, he said.

Tanina Tindley, 29, lives across the street, too. She has lived on Camac her whole life, she said. She rushed outside when she heard the shots.

One neighbor held a shirt to Varughese's wounds, she recalled, while the dying man's girlfriend cradled his head in her lap.

As she spoke, a man placed a stuffed toy bear with a Penn State hat on the spot where Varughese died. After the man walked away, the wind blew the cap off the bear.

Tindley walked off her porch, picked the hat up, and put it back.