Parents of slain students file suit claiming USC lied about safety
The parents of two University of Southern California Chinese graduate students slain near the campus last month have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university, saying the school misled them when it claimed that it ranks among the safest universities.
Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23-year-old electronic engineering students from China, were fatally shot April 11 while sitting in Qu's BMW in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue. Wu was found in the passenger seat; Qu stumbled to the steps of a nearby home and collapsed. Los Angeles police say they believe the killings were the result of a robbery gone wrong. No arrests have been made.
On Wednesday, Wanzhi Qu and Xiahong Fei, Qu's parents, and Xuyong Wu and Meinan Yin, Wu's parents, filed the lawsuit against USC in a downtown Los Angeles court, seeking unspecific damages for the loss of their children.
Their attorney, Alan Burton Newman, alleges international students apply to USC through the university's website.
In answer to questions about safety, the website states, "USC is ranked among the safest of U.S. universities and colleges, with one of the most comprehensive, proactive campus and community safety programs in the nation," the lawsuit alleges.
The suit notes that USC says it provides 24-hour security to campus and in surrounding neighborhoods.
"USC is not one of the safest U.S. universities and colleges and does not provide twenty-four hour law enforcement services in the surrounding neighborhoods and is in a high crime area," according to the suit.
The Adams-Normandie neighborhood that includes the shooting location ranks 27th out of 209 L.A. neighborhoods for violent crime, putting it in the top fifth of most violent areas, according to a Times analysis of crime data.
In a statement in response to the lawsuit, USC attorney Debra Wong Yang said, "USC is deeply saddened by this tragic event, which was a random violent act not representative of the safety of USC or the neighborhoods around campus."
"While we have deep sympathy for the victims' families, this lawsuit is baseless and we will move to have it dismissed. As part of our support for the families we met with them and offered financial assistance as a gesture of kindness and sympathy. The attorney for the families subsequently instructed them to decline USC's gesture and filed suit."
The suit alleged that USC "actively solicits international students particularly from China for its graduate studies program for which it receives a substantial sum of money from tuition to help fund the university."
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Ying Wu, left, and Ming Qu. Credit: KTLA-TV