Updated: 2012-04-12 11:15
By Wang Jun in Los Angeles (China Daily)
Two Chinese graduate students, both in their 20s, were shot dead at the University of Southern California in a possible carjacking gone bad at around 1 am on Wednesday.
The slayings have shook USC, which has an enormous international student population, the largest number of any university in the US. Roughly 19 percent of the school's 38,000 students are from overseas, with approximately 1,900 of them from China, according to the university.
The victims, Ying Wu and Ming Qu, were both studying at the electronic engineering department, according to a letter the university issued to the community. The shootings happened in a neighborhood northwest of the campus.
"Our community is saddened and outraged by this callous and meaningless act. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims' families and friends and all who knew them at USC. The university is reaching out to those affected, offering counseling and support," according to the university's statement.
According to the Los Angeles Times, immediately after the shootings, the male victim was able to stumble onto a nearby porch before collapsing, while the woman was found slumped over the inside the vehicle, a late-model BMW".
Deng Kaifu, who claimed he is a student at the same university and was a friend of the victims, said on Renren.com, China's equivalent to Facebook, that the two students shared apartments in the west of the university with other schoolmates for saving rental. They did not buy a car in the first two years of studying until Ming Qu brought a second-hand BMW with $10,000 this term for the purpose of looking for a job.
Six people have been killed this year in the area, police said, but violent crime in the area is down 20 percent this year. Last year, 21 were killed.
The gunman fled on foot, and no description has been yet released by authorities.
The Chinese consulate in Los Angeles said it has contacted the university and also sent people to the campus to help with the investigation.
Yue Liwen, consul of press affairs, said that Qiu Shaofang, the consulate general, is highly aware of the incident. Qiu immediately contacted LAPD upon hearing of the shootings and found one of the victim's family members in China. It is currently working to contact the family of the other victim.
Yue said the consulate has sent alerts to Chinese people who live in the neighborhood. Yue said they will assist the victims' families in traveling to the US and assisting the police in its investigation.
Leon Li, vice-president of the Chinese Student and Scholars Association (CSSA) at USC and a graduate student in economics said that the association will be working with friends of the victims in order to comfort them. The association is also trying to contact the victims' family members in China.
"We want to work with them for the memorial service," Li said.
CSSA plans to organize a safety seminar to educate students to pay more attention to safety issues after this incident.
"It is because USC and students like us, the neighborhood is lively and has plenty job opportunity. USC thrives on the huge number of international students it has. Our community should not become a target of robbery and intimidation," posted Wu Bo on Renren.com, a social networking site in China.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday evening on the USC campus for the victims.
Kimia Mostaghimi in Los Angeles contributed to this story.