Chinese USC grad student found dead
Updated: 2014-07-26 07:12
By CINDY LIU in Los Angeles
Photo shows Viterbi school at the University of Southern California. [Huang Xilin for China Daily]
A 24-year-old Chinese graduate student at USC was found dead at his off-campus apartment after being attacked by at least three men as he was walking home from a study group, police said.
Police said they were called at about 7 am on Thursday to an apartment in the 1200 block of 30th Street where they discovered the body of Xinran Ji.
Ji was assaulted with a blunt object around 12:45 am on Thursday a few blocks from campus and near his apartment building, investigators said.
"Somehow, the victim got back to his apartment," Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Andy Neiman said at a news conference.
Ji, who apparently had just walked a friend home, did not call police. "Someone else called police," Neiman said.
Police said that the attack may have been a crime of opportunity, and that it was unclear whether Ji was robbed.
A cause of death has not been determined, but university officials said he appeared to have suffered a head injury.
Ji was a second-year graduate student at the Viterbi School of Engineering. He entered the school in the fall of 2013.
Ji's family in China has been notified of his death and the school is making arrangements for them to travel to Los Angeles, school officials said.
In a statement issued Friday on its website, the consulate-general of China in Los Angeles expressed strong condemnation of the crime and extended heartfelt condolences to the victim's family.
It also urged that police and USC solve the crime as soon as possible and take action to ensure the safety of Chinese students in Los Angeles.
A consul spokesman told China Daily in a phone interview that support will be provided to the victim's family.
The attack came two years after two other Chinese graduate students were shot to death near campus.
In April 2012, two 23-year-old Chinese graduate students in the electrical engineering program, Ying Wu and Ming Qu, were shot to death around 1 a.m. while sitting in a parked BMW just west of campus.
The students' parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university, saying the school misled them when it said it ranked among the safest in the United State.
USC has the biggest international student population in the US. According to the statistic on USC's website, 3,771 Chinese students attended in the school year 2012-2013.
A Chinese female graduate student at USC, who said she lives in the same apartment building where Ji lived, told China Daily on Thursday that her roommate saw massive blood from the victim in an elevator when she came back to their apartment around 1 am.
"I am moving out this weekend to stay temporarily with my friend in Burbank. I know it is far from school. But I can't stay here anymore,'' said the student who asked that her name not be used.
A recent USC graduate, also Chinese and who did not want her name used, told China Daily that on-campus security is much better than off-campus. She said that north of the campus where Ji was attacked is considered much safer than the off-campus south area.
"City Park is considered newer, safer and better compared to other off-campus housing," she said. "Now I am not sure. I don't know where I can recommend junior Chinese students to rent."
Dongying Yang, Executive Chairman of CSSA, Chinese Students & Scholars Association said CSSA is deeply sad for losing Ji in the Chines community. He recalled "Ji is a nice Chinese young man and very hard working student."
CSSA claimed that USC should take responsibility for not providing necessary security in off campus area in the summer. Yang introduced to China Daily in the interview that off campus patrol is reduced in summer break in USC. Yang believed this is the main reason why Ji lost the opportunity to ask for help as soon as attacked. Yang also introduced that the ground floor security was off duty at night on Thursday too.
Deputy Chief David Carlisle of the USC Department of Public Safety told China Daily in an email that USC contracts with private security to provide an additional public safety presence in the campus community.
"These Security Ambassadors, who are not armed and do not have powers of arrest, supplement the normal deployment of USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers and those of the LAPD. The complement of Security Ambassadors is reduced during the summer months when the majority of students leave campus. The deployment of DPS officers and LAPD remains the same year-round," Carlisle said in an email.
Carl Marziali, assistant vice-president for Media and Public Relations of USC, told China Daily in an email that "an additional 40 LAPD officers patrol the university neighborhood now compared to April 2012. LAPD also has assigned a dedicated prosecutor and detective to the university."
Yang said as a student how used to take one year course in EE program and still a friend of many EE students at USC, he is very concerned that the safety of EE students are put at edge because the fact that lots of projects they have are have to be done on school's computer. "Me myself and many of my friends in this program often have to study in lab until 2-3 o'clock in the morning. "Yang said. " Another problem is one of EE's core courses is only offered in summer. Many Chinese students as well other other international students have to stay to take that course when security is not guaranteed. "CSSA is now requesting USC to bring back the off campus patrol, as Yang said.
CCSA also told China Daily that Chinese international students are often described "rich people "or " the second generation of the rich class in China ". "Most of us are from ordinary families and we come to US for education like many other international students. Almost everymonth there is rubbery around USC area and victims so often fall in Chinese." Young said.
Xu Yuan, Chairman of CSSA said to China Daily in an phone interview that it is the time to call for more supports to international students especially Chinese students from universities and the US society.
Huang Xilin contributed to the story
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