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Slaying of two graduate students stuns USC; LAPD seeks killer

 

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

The slayings of two USC graduate students early Wednesday about a mile from the campus has shaken the university as police swarmed the area looking for the killer.

One of the victims, a man in his 20s, attempted to run for help after being shot but never made it. He was found collapsed on a porch, police said. The other victim, a woman in her 20s, was found slumped over in the BMW parked in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue.

[For the Record, 8:20 a.m. April 12: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to South Raymond Avenue. The correct address is the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue just south of Adams Boulevard.]

Police said both were graduate students from China studying electrical engineering, and Los Angeles authorities were working with school officials and the Chinese consulate to notify their families.

PHOTOS: USC shaken by shooting deaths of two students

A lone assailant is believed responsible for the slayings, said Cmdr. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department. He said detectives had little to go on and were examining all possibilities.

“We’re just hoping we get a tip from someone in the area,” he said.

Homicide detectives were going door to door Wednesday, talking with neighbors in the South Raymond Avenue neighborhood.

Residents in the area say the victims were a couple often seen together, who kept to themselves and rarely drove around town.

Hours later, neighbors Julia Martinez and Maria Perez recounted the events outside Martinez’s apartment in the 2700 block of South Raymond Avenue. They said the couple had moved into an apartment on the street just two to three months ago.

“They almost never talked to anyone,” Martinez said, adding the victims more often walked or biked than drove.

Early Wednesday afternoon, other residents awoke to a grim scene.   

“It looked like a crime scene out of a television show,” resident Charlie Parker said of his block. “There was massive police presence.”

Word of the double homicide also reached members of the Chinese American student community at USC.

Eric Hau, 26, an international student from southern China who is studying biochemistry at USC, said he “heard a lot of helicopters” early Wednesday but wasn’t sure what had happened until he got word from friends Wednesday morning.

Said Hau simply: “We feel very sad.”  

In an email to USC students and staff Wednesday about the slaying, university officials said they are "saddened and outraged by this callous and meaningless act" and they were "working aggressively" to solve the crime.

The police are saying the slayings may have been a bungled robbery attempt.

"This incident occurred outside the neighborhood areas where over the past several years we have steadily increased our security presence, adding dozens of security and license plate recognition cameras, uniformed officers, and yellow-jacketed security ambassadors," said the email from Michael L. Jackson, vice president of student affairs, and Todd Dickey, senior vice president of administration.

"However, tragedies such as this morning's remind us that we all need to be continuously vigilant about safety and security," it continued.

RELATED:

USC students slain: 'This really scares me'

USC shootings come as prospective students tour campus

Man shot at USC apparently was calling for help, police say

-- Ashley Powers and Rosanna Xia at USC, Sam Quinones in West Adams and Andrew Blankstein and Matt Stevens in Los Angeles

 
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