Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar, both 19, were killed at 4am on Tuesday (June 13) by a foreign national in the city centre.
Sources say the dreadlocked 31-year-old suspect, who has since been arrested on suspicion of murder, is from West Africa.
Reports suggest the cold killer suffered "mental health issues" and walked away from his victims in a chilling "calm" manor.
Webber and Kumar died after being stabbed "multiple times", a man in his 50s was also killed in another location later that day.
Nottinghamshire Police chief constable Kate Meynell said: "Police were called to Ilkeston Road just after 4am after a member of the public reported that two people aged 19 had been stabbed and were unresponsive.
"We had a further call to another incident in Milton Street, where the driver of a stolen van had attempted to run over three people.
"As a result, one man is in hospital in a critical condition while two others are believed to have suffered minor injuries.
"The van was then stopped on Maple Street, where a man was tasered and detained by police officers on suspicion of murder.
"A man in his 50s was also found dead from knife injuries in Magdala Road by a member of the public.
"At the moment, we believe that the suspect has stolen this man’s vehicle and driven it to Milton Street, where he is then driven at members of the public.
"We are still in the early stages of the investigation. I need to determine exactly what the motives were behind this attack."
In a statement, the University of Nottingham said: "It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden and unexpected death of two of our students following a major incident in Nottingham city centre overnight.
"We are shocked and devastated by the news and our thoughts are with those affected, their families and friends.
"We know this is likely to cause distress for staff and students in our community.
"Support is available through our support and wellbeing services for any of our community who may need it."
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