LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two young men have were arrested Friday in the killings of two Chinese graduate students who were shot to death near the University of Southern California campus last month, police said.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Javier Bolden, 19, and Bryan Barnes, 20, were arrested on suspicion of the murders. Barnes was arrested at a home near campus Friday afternoon, and Bolden was arrested a few hours later in Palmdale, Beck said. Both were being held without bail.
Ming Qu, of Jilin, and Ying Wu, of Hunan, were shot April 11 while sitting in a BMW about a mile away from the USC campus. Both students were 23 years old.
The motive was still under investigation, Beck said, but the "evidence points to a street robbery."
Beck said investigators believed the killings of Wu and Qu were part of a larger string of crimes committed in Los Angeles.
"Forensic evidence recovered at the scene linked them to two other attempted homicides," Beck said. Material evidence directly linked both suspects to Wu and Qu, he added.
The deaths sent shockwaves through the school, which has the largest number of international students of any U.S. university. Roughly 19 percent of the school's 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China.
After the shooting, Wu was found in the BMW's passenger seat and Qu was on the steps of a nearby house where he collapsed while trying to summon help, police said.
USC's campus is located in an urban center a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles. It is across the street from county museums and not far from the Staples Center arena and a gentrifying area of Victorian homes. Yet it is also known as an area that had faced high crime and gang activity.
The victims' parents filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging the university made false claims about safety in the "frequently asked questions" section of its online application.
The 15-page lawsuit accuses USC of hiding behind the word "urban" and not saying the school is in a high-crime residential area. It also notes that Chinese students in particular would interpret "urban" to mean USC is in a safe area.
"The 'urban' representation misled Chinese students, including Ming Qu, into believing the area is safe since in China, the more urban the area, the safer the area," the lawsuit states, claiming USC understood this is how Chinese students would interpret the description.
USC lawyer Debra Wong Yang said the university was deeply saddened by the deaths but found the lawsuit to be baseless.
The school and city police announced new security measures after the slayings and promised more video cameras, escorts and patrols.
The additional security will include sending over 30 more officers to the department division that handles the USC area, and the university will pay for four additional officers to patrol the student residential neighborhoods, Beck said.
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