Students rattled after USC shooting, but many still feel safe
The morning after a Halloween night shooting on campus, classes resumed Thursday as students said they felt safe -- but shaken -- as they headed to class on bike and foot, hugging binders and carrying backpacks.
Freshman Kelly Reinke, 18, who is studying broadcast journalism, said she has never felt unsafe at USC but is rattled by the fact that the shooting occurred in the heart of the campus."The fact that it was at a place that so many people go to … just makes it that much more uncomfortable," she said.
Beth Boser, a doctoral candidate in communications who lives off campus, said, "I’ve never felt any reason not to feel safe here."
She called Thursday night’s shooting during a party that left four people injured an “anomaly” and praised the university for its quick response in keeping the campus community informed with at least five text alert updates every hour beginning at midnight.
Hyung–Jun Na, a 19-year-old biology student, said he generally feels safe on campus but that USC has "always had a reputation for not being in the best neighborhood."
He said the reputation suffered last year when two graduate students from China were slain a few blocks from campus –- an incident that "freaked out" his parents, he said.
Na, wearing a sweatshirt in the school colors of cardinal and gold, took the opportunity to pray for campus safety along with members of his Korea Campus Crusade for Christ group Thursday morning.
As they gathered around a flagpole outside Bovard Auditorium in the heart of campus, about a dozen students bowed their heads as one group member prayed: “You have woken us up to pray for this campus. Allow us to pray for this campus. Those gunshots woke us up.”
Taylor Carley, an 18-year-old freshman from New Hampshire, said he did not find out about the shooting until Thursday morning. But he said he was "not concerned at all." Safety was not an issue when he applied to USC last year, he said.
"Bad stuff happens everywhere," said Carley, who is studying industrial systems engineering.
Jessica Chen, a third-year biomedical engineering student from New Jersey, also said she generally felt safe on campus but that the shooting made her a bit more concerned. Chen said she simply needed to trust that university security officials will be able to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.
“There’s only so much you can do,” she said as she readied herself for a one-mile training run at the campus athletic field.
Chen said her parents had been a bit concerned about safety when she applied to USC and that she had not yet spoken to them about the shooting. She said she might text them to ease any worries they might have but was not sure she would be able to reach them because of the super storm Sandy.
According to a database of crime statistics compiled by the Times, the neighborhood where USC is located, University Park, has reported 51 violent crimes in the last six months. The rate of 221.2 crimes per 10,000 people is higher than nearby neighborhoods.
No signs of a crime scene were visible around the Ronald Tutoring Campus Center on Thursday as workers washed down the patio amid early morning fog. By 8 a.m., the campus pulse picked up with more students and staff arriving on campus - -some heard talking about the shooting on their cellphones.
Here's what Twitter users are saying about the shooting:
-- Ari Bloomekatz at USC
Photo: USC student Hyung-Jun Na prays with the Korea Campus Crusade for Christ near the site on campus where four people were shot during a Halloween party. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times