USC killing suspects tied to 'No Respect' party crew
In the stream of photos on their Facebook pages, Javier Bolden and Bryan Barnes look like the life of the party.
The young men hung out with a group who dubbed themselves “No Respect Inc.,” a “party crew” that followed a local DJ to parties and other events around South Los Angeles.
The photos show Bolden and Barnes dancing, shirtless, showing off their tattoos and muscles and striking poses with young women. Under one photo Barnes took of himself in December, he wrote: “Merry Christmas To All Da Females Dat Didnt Have A Good Christmas :)”
All this partying eventually helped Los Angeles police detectives connect the pair to the April slayings of two USC graduate students from China — a botched robbery that brought global scrutiny to the campus that has attracted foreign students.
Barnes and Bolden were charged Tuesday with two counts of first-degree murder in the killing of electrical engineering students Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23.
Investigators said they believe Bolden and Barnes came across the pair talking in a parked BMW and decided to rob them. At some point, police alleged, Barnes opened fire.
But prosecutors on Tuesday also charged the pair with two earlier shootings that occurred during parties that Bolden and Barnes allegedly attended.
At one party in South L.A. in December, officials say, they drew guns and opened fire, wounding a man. Then in February, authorities allege Barnes fired numerous rounds at another party, severely wounding a man and injuring a woman, both in their 20s.
LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon told The Times that shell casings found at the two parties matched ones found on the street where the two students were killed.
“These were parties these guys frequented,” Gannon said. “These guys were a couple of knuckleheads.”
Both police and family members are trying to reconcile the “party boy” image Bolden and Barnes projected with the violence they are accused of.
Though they flashed hand signals and professed support for the Black P Stones gang on their Facebook pages, police don't believe they were active gang members. They had what sources described as minor juvenile records.
Bolden, 19, was living in a foster home in Palmdale. He is the father of one child and has another child on the way, his mother said.
“He was a good kid, he was going to college, he worked,” said Lashanna S. Green-Chaskley, adding that Bolden was working at a Food 4 Less and attending classes at a community college.
“He’s just telling me he wants to be free,” she said, after visiting Bolden in jail Monday. “He looked me in my eyes and said ‘Mom, I need you to believe me when I say I didn’t do it.’”
Green-Chaskley spoke repeatedly about the grief the parents of Qu and Wu must be going through. “I feel for the parents,” she said. ‘I don’t know what happened. I don’t know the motive.”
In the downtown courthouse Tuesday, a circle of family and friends joined hands and prayed. Dressed in a yellow sweatshirt and blue shirt, Barnes and Bolden appeared briefly in court and agreed to postpone their arraignment until June 25. As the hearing ended, one woman in the audience yelled out: “I love you, bro.”
--Rosanna Xia, Richard Winton and Garrett Therolf.
Photo: USC President C.L. Max Nikias, top, bows before images of Ying Wu and Ming Qu before eulogizing the students at a memorial service last month. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times. Middle: A portion of Bryan Barnes' Facebook page.