Second shooting makes USC look 'really bad,' student says
Some USC students living near fraternity row said Wednesday that after another shooting near campus, they feel unsafe in their own neighborhood and fear for the reputation of their school.
In the latest incident early Wednesday, police say suspect Jeremy Hendricks, 24, approached four students -- three men and a woman –- and demanded items. Hendricks then placed the items in a backpack and fled on foot before students flagged down USC security, who tracked down the suspect and confronted him, authorities said.
An officer saw that the suspect was armed, said Lt. Andy Neiman of the LAPD. When Hendricks made a sudden move, the security officer shot him in the leg, Neiman said.
The incident comes a week after two USC graduate students from China were shot and killed in the 2900 block of South Raymond Avenue.
The shootings have put students living off campus on alert. One such student is William Smallword, who grew up near Normandie Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near USC.
“I really don’t feel safe right now,” Smallword said. “I don’t even let my girlfriend come out here at night. Now people are scared to sit in their cars.”
Megan Waters, a 21-year-old senior, shares Smallword’s concern. She said she and a group of sorority sisters were scared as rumors whirled about the shooting.
She said they were given “no information” from officials and were worried the shooting might have taken place at a popular strip mall on 30th and Figueroa streets, where many students hang out.
Waters said she is glad to be a graduating senior.
“I don’t want to be in this area anymore,” she said. “I love USC, but not when it isn’t safe like this.”
But Patrick Atchison, 19, said he has always felt safe under the watch of the Department of Public Safety, adding he thinks the two incidents in the span of a week is coincidental.
“It’s a shame on the face of the university more than an accurate depiction of the quality of safety the officers provide,” Atchison said.
On Wednesday, just after 8:30 a.m., USC sent out a notice to students, describing the alleged robbery.
A USC spokesman said officials were not immediately available to comment on the matter. But the school addressed saftey concerns on its website after the graduate students were killed and said the school had increased security measures in 2011.
School officials said the neighborhoods around campus -- even those outside its patrol area -- are safe.
"Crime in the neighborhoods around USC, and in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, has dropped dramatically in recent years," the school's statement said.
Even so, Smallword said he has friends who are now looking to transfer.
“This is USC,” Smallword said. “We’re supposed to set an example. This makes USC look really bad.”
-- Stephen Ceasar at USC and Matt Stevens