USC Grad Student Found Dead, Might Have Been Assaulted

USC Grad Student Found Dead, Might Have Been Assauted
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Updated at the bottom with the LAPD saying this is now officially a murder case: The victim was assaulted by three suspects, police say.

A 24-year-old USC graduate student was found dead in an apartment near campus this morning, authorities said. A police statement says the young man "may have been the victim of an assault."

The discovery in the 1200 block of 30th Street was reported to the Los Angeles Police Department's Southwest Division about 7 a.m., LAPD Officer Bruce Borihanh told us.

See also: USC Student Murders See Two Arrested

A detective in Southwest said that the find was at first considered to be a "suspicious death" and that, as such ...

... detectives would treat the apartment as a homicide crime scene for now.

In fact, the detective told us, several investigators were at the scene, and there was an LAPD command post at 30th Street and Vermont Avenue.

The department said in a statement that there would be a "lengthy investigation" into the death.

Borihanh, however, discounted reports that the man might have been stabbed. Is it a homicide, a suicide or a national natural death?

"We don't know that," he said. "They're looking at everything. There doesn't seem to be any other criminal activity at the scene, which is why it's a death invest investigation at this time."

Cops described the victim to us as being Chinese.

See also: USC Locks Down its Campus Fortress

[Update at 1:22 p.m.]: Campus provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Elizabeth Garrett addressed a letter to the USC community. She said, in part:

We are withholding the student’s name until the family can be notified.

Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the student’s death, which appears to have occurred sometime this morning from a head injury, the cause of which has not been determined. We will wait for more information from LAPD before drawing any conclusions. From all early indications, this was an isolated incident and there was and is no apparent threat to the campus community.

She said the school was reaching out to friends and family of the man to offer counseling.

[Update at 6:16 p.m.]: In a statement released tonight, LAPD now says the victim was murdered.

He was assaulted by three suspects as he walked in the area during the midnight hour, cops say: Somehow he made it back home, where he died. Here's the key part of the department's latest narrative:

The investigation indicates that the victim was assaulted around 12:45 a.m. in the area of 29th Street and Orchard Avenue while he walked towards his residence on 30th Street. Investigators believe the victim was assaulted by at least three suspects as he walked home. The victim was struck with an unknown blunt object during the assault and the motive for the attack is still under investigation. Following the attack, the victim was able to make his way back to his apartment a short distance away, where he was found dead later that morning.

Witnesses or anyone with information on possible suspects were asked to call detectives at 213-485-4341.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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