The American tourist killed in the Jaffa stabbings on Tuesday was a West Point graduate who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and was studying business at Vanderbilt University.
Taylor Force, a 28-year-old graduate student, died during a school-sponsored trip to learn about startup companies overseas. In a letter notifying students, faculty and staff, Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos called the incident a “horrific act of violence” but provided no details.
Force graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army from 2009 to 2014. He had been based at Fort Hood, Texas, as a platoon leader and fire support officer, among other duties.
Zeppos said in his letter that the other 28 students and four Vanderbilt staffers on the trip were safe. The university is arranging for their return to the United States.
“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 wrote.
He said university resources are being made available for students, faculty and staff who may seek counseling.
A friend of the slain Force, Barrett Caldwell, described himself as heartbroken at the loss of a unique and heroic man. Referring to Force’s performance in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said that “his decisions, actions, and leadership were heroic and yet he stayed so humble when we talked privately.”
Caldwell said when he learned of his friend’s murder he began sobbing in a parking lot a world away in Florida.
“He was such a good, good man,” he said.