Friends, faculty and officials mourn slain USC students
More than 1,000 students, faculty, friends, school and Chinese Consulate officials filled USC's Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday evening to honor two graduate students from China who were killed near campus last week.
When the families of Ming Qu and Ying Wu entered, the entire room stood in respectful silence, punctuated only by those who wept openly. "You were so compassionate, so good to your friends,' Jing Ye said in Chinese after bowing to the smiling black and white photo of her best friend projected onto a large screen. "You had booked tickets to fly home on May 14," she said, holding back tears. "You were so excited to go to your friend's wedding, your first friend to get married."
On a stage decorated with elegant white flower arrangements, many others took the podium and shared their thoughts, including the consul general of China's Consulate in Los Angeles, the dean of the school of engineering, and C.L. Max Nikias, the university president.
Recognizing that 'both traveled thousands of miles to better their education,' Nikias announced that the university will establish a scholarship fund in the students' names. The fund will provide two scholarships each year to students who exemplified their “unyielding ambition” and “uncompromising kindness.”
The memorial service was held the same day USC security officers shot and wounded a suspect after he allegedly robbed four USC students at gunpoint a few blocks from the auditorium. Officials said it was too early to know whether the incident is related to the shooting deaths of Qu and Wu, both 23 and graduate students from China studying electrical engineering. They were shot April 11 in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue.
The students were sitting in a 2003 BMW about 1 a.m. when a gunman came up and shot two or three times into the driver's side. The students had been chatting, with the car double-parked. Property belonging to the students was missing, leading investigators to suspect that robbery may have been the motive for the crime.
Three neighbors heard the gunshots and called 911. Shortly after the shooting, a witness saw a person in dark clothing running from the scene, according to Deputy LAPD Chief Pat Gannon.
No one has been arrested in connection with their deaths. The city and school have offered rewards totaling $200,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Since the deaths of Qu and Wu, hundreds of faculty and friends have come together for a candlelight vigil organized by various international student organizations. Students have been adding flowers and signing memorial books left outside the home, and many attended a service held by the engineering school and have held quiet gatherings in local chapels.
"My friend, my dear brother, the past seven days seemed incredibly long to me," said Biao Yang, who had been friends with Qu for six years. The two had played sports, pulled all-nighters in college studying the GRE together, and dreamed of coming to the U.S. Qu had even accompanied him to the Philippines, Yang said, when Yang missed the GRE deadline in China
"We will take care of your parents," Yang said in Chinese, his head bowed. "We will always be brothers."
Photo: USC President C.L. Max Nikias bows to images of Ying Wu and Ming Qu before eulogizing the slain engineering students during a memorial service in Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday. Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times