American student murdered in Israel served in Iraq, Afghanistan

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Vanderbilt graduate student was fatally wounded in a stabbing attack while on a school trip to Israel.

In a statement, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said Taylor Force was killed in the attack near Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. All other Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff on the trip are safe.

Force, 28, was a student at the Owen Graduate School of Management. He was also a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Taylor served as a United States Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan after he graduated from West Point.

The trip Force was on was to understand global entrepreneurship and to communicate with start-up businesses in Israel.

“He exemplified the spirit of discovery, learning and service that is the hallmark of our wonderful Owen community. This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world,” Zeppos said in a statement.

At least 10 other people were injured in the knife spree. According to police, the attacker attempted to stab drivers waiting in traffic on a popular beach shopping promenade. He then stabbed three more people.

Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel at the time of the attack in a meeting nearby with former President Shimon Peres. Meanwhile, his wife and grandchildren were eating on a beach near the site when the attack occurred. Wednesday, the vice president criticized Palestinian leaders for failing to condemn the terror attack, calling it “heinous.”

“The United States condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while on a trip to the Middle East.

“Anybody that has met Taylor would know your life was improved getting to know him,” said Seth Thompson, Force’s friend from Lexington, Kentucky. “He was a bright individual. Just the kind of guy you want to hang out with, you want around you.”

Thompson said graduate school was Force’s time to do something for himself.

“Being a West Point graduate, you know, serving his country proudly overseas, and now having the opportunity to pursue his own interests,” Thompson said. “If there was any way possible to add to the layers of tragedy, this would do it.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement concerning Force’s death:

I am horrified and saddened by the senseless attack that took the life of American student Taylor Force and wounded others. This is a tragic loss for his family, friends and the Vanderbilt community, and we send our sincere condolences to all of them in their time of grief. I join other officials from the U.S. in condemning this terrorist act that can never be justified or tolerated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote this on Facebook: