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After deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, Texas native Taylor Force made a life change last fall when he enrolled in Vanderbilt University's MBA program.
A school-sponsored trip this week to Israel was an opportunity to see the country's growing startup scene.
But on Tuesday night, while out in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Jaffa, in an Arab-Jewish quarter, a Palestinian man went on a stabbing rampage that left Force dead and 10 others wounded, police said.
Force, 28, was the only Vanderbilt student harmed.
"He was a great kid," father Stuart Force told The Associated Press.
The incident was at least the fourth in a burst of violence that gripped Israel Tuesday — on the same day Vice President Joe Biden landed for high-level talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials. Two Israeli police were attacked when a Palestinian opened fire near Jerusalem's Old City. The suspect was killed.
Earlier, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli in the neck in the central city of Petah Tikvah before he was shot and killed, police said, while a Palestinian woman who tried to stab Israeli security forces in the Old City was also killed.
In remembering Force, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said he "exemplified the spirit of discovery."
"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 message to students and faculty.
Force graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Army from 2009 to 2014, according to his LinkedIn page. He had been based at Fort Hood, Texas, as a platoon leader and fire support officer, among other duties.
Force went to high school at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell and was an Eagle Scout, according to the LinkedIn page. At West Point, Force was a member of the ski team and received a bachelor's degree in engineering and industrial management.
In an interview with the MBA website Poets & Quants in November, Force said he was excited for his future going back to school.
"In addition to learning the skills needed to be successful in business, I want to establish life-long connections and friendships with my fellow students from the U.S. and around the globe," he said.
State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned the attacks Tuesday and offered his "heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Taylor and all those affected by these senseless attacks."
Biden also tweeted in response that "there is no justification for such acts of terror."
Zeppos said Vanderbilt is arranging for the other students' and staff members' return to the United States.