Updated after the jump with new details about how Wu and Qu died. See also: “Some in China Blame USC Grad Students for 'Showing off Their Wealth'.”
The USC grad students murdered in a 1 a.m. shooting outside their apartment have been identified as Ying Wu and Ming Qu, according to USC officials. They were both 23, and had traveled from China to study electrical engineering at the prestigious USC campus.
But the area surrounding USC is notoriously not so prestigious.
The couple, described by neighbors as private and reserved, were shot in an expensive new BMW on Raymond Avenue, the street where they lived, near 27th. One neighbor in particular told the Times that gang and drug activity in the area has been on the incline.
“Our community is saddened and outraged by this callous and meaningless act,” says Michael Jackson, vice president of USC Student Affairs, in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims' families and friends and all who knew them at USC.”
He says Wu and Qu lived outside of the bubble that USC has taken measures to patrol:
This incident occurred outside the neighborhood areas where over the past several years we have steadily increased our security presence, adding dozens of security and license plate recognition cameras, uniformed officers, and yellow-jacketed security ambassadors. However, tragedies such as this morning's remind us that we all need to be continuously vigilant about safety and security.
The spot where they were killed was about seven blocks north and four blocks west of campus. Other students reportedly live in the area.
However, USC kids often warn each other not to live west of Vermont.
Only four homicides had been reported in West Adams this year — up until this morning, when Wu and Qu were found shot to death on Raymond. When police arrived, Wu was slumped in the BMW's passengers seat, and Qu had collapsed on the porch of a nearby home. (He had apparently been trying to call for help.)
Their murderer is still on the loose. Homicide detectives are working on a motive, but are guessing the double murder may have resulted from a bungled car-jacking.
In her Facebook profile picture, Wu poses in a USC cowboy hat in the campus bookstore. It was taken over a year ago. She lists herself as an electrical-engineering major and Los Angeles resident.
More information to come as it's available. Meanwhile, let us know: Have you met either of the victims? Any idea what part of China they're from, or how their time in the U.S. was going?
For more police details and student reactions, see our original report on last night's USC murders: “Chinese Graduate Students May Have Been Shot, Killed for Their BMW.”
UP NEXT: What were Wu and Qu doing in the street at 1 a.m.?
Some commenters on Chinese-language forum mitbbs.com wonder, “What were they doing at 1:00 AM in the darkness?”
New details given to the Times by LAPD investigators suggest the pair may have been chatting after a late-night study session:
Qu would often ride his bike to Wu's home, where the two would converse on the porch, the sources said. But on Wednesday, it was raining and Qu was in his BMW that friends said was a 2003 model he bought for $10,000. Police said a witness told them the two had been studying at the library earlier in the evening.
Shortly before the attack, Qu double-parked his BMW outside the home where Yu rented a room. She came outside, sources said, and the two were believed to be sitting in the car talking when the killer either walked or drove up to the car about 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Tragically, police also tell the Times that — before dragging himself up a neighbor's steps in a final attempt to get help — Qu was shot multiple times, including once in the head. Wu was reportedly only shot once in the chest, but it was enough to kill her.
Both died after being transported to a nearby hospital.
The victims were apparently part of a very tight-knit group of engineering and international students at USC.
An alumnus named Hardik Kothare writes on the Facebook page for the Viterbi School of Engineering's Graduate Student Association:
In memory of the two Viterbi Graduate Students who lost their lives in today's tragic incident:
There are 2 books available for students to sign at Little Chapel of Silence (near Town and Gown) that the University will later give to the parents. Students can also leave flowers if they'd like.