One of the 68 people confirmed dead in the militant attack on a shopping mall in Kenya had once been a writing instructor at Stony Brook University on Long Island.
Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor taught creating writing and African literature at Stony Brook for six years in the 1970s, according to Newsday.
Awoonor, a former ambassador to Brazil, Cuba and the United Nations, died after being wounded in the Sunday attack, when gunmen with heavy artillery stormed the crowded mall frequented by Westerners.
Ghana's ministry of information said Awoonor's son was among the 175 injured and is responding to treatment.
Arthur Dorbrin, co-founder of Amnesty International's Long Island chapter, told Newsday that Awoonor was in Nairobi to attend an annual festival of literature and the arts.
Meanwhile, the NYPD has heightened security at key locations around the city in response to the ongoing attack, though officials say there are no specific threats to the city.
Counterterror units have been deployed throughout the city and extra officers were on the streets Sunday, especially in heavily trafficked areas like Times Square and Penn Station.
"We keep track of events across the globe as they unfold and we adjust our counter terrorism efforts accordingly," NYPD spokesman John McCarthy said in a statement. "We have redeployed our critical response and Hercules teams as a precaution. There is no specific threat."
The Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened additional strikes, saying it was in retaliation "for the lives of innocent Muslims" killed by Kenyan forces leading an African Union offensive in Somalia.
In nearby Jersey City, local Kenyans attending a church service said Sunday that their thoughts and prayers were with those still held hostage in the mall.
"We will pray for them and ask for patience," said Rev. Haron Orutwa during his sermon at Tumaini Kristo Lutheran Church.
--Jonathan Vigliotti contributed reporting