USC students killed: 'I'm going to move as soon as possible'
This post has been corrected. Please see note below.
Ryan Wei, 24, an electrical engineering graduate student from China, said he wants to move inside the USC security zone after two fellow grad students were fatally shot in a BMW near campus.
He said he was mistaken all day for one of the victims because he also drives a BMW and lives in the neighborhood.
"My friend thought it was me because I drive the same car, a BMW," he said. "Before I never thought much that I drove a BMW in this neighborhood. Walking yes, may be a little bit more dangerous, but now I’m going to be more careful."
His phone has been ringing off the hook from friends who know he lives in the area. His phone rang once while he was being interviewed.
"I’m alive," he said in answering the phone.
He said he wants to move, as well, to the security zone around the USC campus, where campus cruisers will drive students home at night and patrolling is much more frequent. Rents are also more expensive there, he said.
"I’m going to move as soon as possible," he said. "I was so shocked. Coming here, I thought the worse that could happen was a robbery, not taking someone’s life."
Mingxin Liu, a 23-year-old electrical engineering grad student from China, visited the crime scene Wednesday.
"Before I came here, I heard it was not the safest area, but I was not that concerned," he said Wednesday in Chinese. "When I got here, there were way more crime alerts than I imagined."
He said the electrical engineering students are a close-knit circle that includes about 100 Chinese students, making it the major with the most Chinese students from abroad. He says this kind of crime rarely happens at home.
"I was shocked. In the car, too," he said. "I don’t even know where there’s a safe place now."
In the future, if friends are thinking of coming to USC, "I will definitely tell my friends to consider that if they're thinking of applying or coming here," he said.
A student who asked not to be named for safety reasons but described herself as a second-year graduate student studying media, said she thinks Chinese students at USC will unite to push for more safety.
"Everyone knew the area was not the best, not the most safe, but older friends [who once attended USC] told us, 'If you’re careful, nothing too serious will happen,' " she said. That feeling has changed, she added.
Just a few days ago, one of her friends from home got an offer from USC and a school on the East Coast. She loved the idea of living in L.A. but heard the USC campus was kind of dangerous.
"Now that this has happened, I think it will affect her decision and decisions by future students," the student said.
Michael Yue, a media affairs official from the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, said the consulate is planning in the near future to host a meeting for Chinese students in L.A. to remind them about taking care of themselves and safety.
Representatives from the consulate’s education department will visit the school to better understand the situation, Yue said.
[For the record, 4:15 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to police cruisers driving students home at night. They are actually Campus Cruisers, a service offered by USC.]
-- Rosanna Xia near USC