Community members and graduate students of the Viterbi School of Engineering gathered in the Seeley G. Mudd Building on Friday to mourn the loss of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, who were fatally shot Wednesday morning on the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue.
USC administrators and members of the Los Angeles Police Department addressed questions ranging from safety concerns to community healing at a town hall-style meeting.
Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of Viterbi, said it was the most tragic event to occur within the Viterbi community.
“[The shooting] was an unprecedented event in our history,” Yortsos said. “I’ve been with USC since 1979, and I don’t remember an event of this magnitude.”
Yortsos said it is hard for students to comprehend the death of Wu and Qu, who were graduate students studying electrical enginnering.
“We engineers are very analytical,” Yortsos said. “We are people who want to know why things happen. When we are confronted with this unexplainable, atrocious event, we are unable to comprehend how these two young people, full of life, that came from across the oceans to explore the worlds, have been taken away from us. It is something that we simply do not have the capacity to understand.”
Wu’s and Qu’s deaths should be seen as a call for the Viterbi community to improve the world, Yortsos said.
“We should move a step up and see how, with our capacity, with our commitment, with our enthusiasm, with our talent, how we can make the world a better place,” Yortsos said. “This is an important challenge for us. This is a debt that we owe to the memory of Ming and Ying.”
LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon said though safety has improved west of campus, it is important the USC community remains aware.
“The area [around USC] has changed dramatically and even though it is safer, it still has a variety of challenges,” Gannon said. “You always, always have to be careful — even in the safest areas of Los Angeles. Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, make sure you know where you’re going, make sure your cell phone is charged.”
Dept. of Public Safety Capt. David Carlisle said that students should not view this one incident as indicative of a bad neighborhood.
“The neighborhoods surrounding USC are safe,” Carlisle said. “We have seen decreases in crime consecutively each year, for the 5 1/2 years that I’ve worked here. Do not judge our neighborhoods by one act of violent crime.”
Denzil Suite, associate vice president for student affairs, said that the university has a plan to increase housing opportunities to graduate students by adding 3,120 beds to The Village at USC for graduate students.
Derek Zhou, a former Viterbi graduate student, said losing a child can be especially stressful for Chinese parents because of the country’s one-child policy.
“I didn’t even tell my parents about the shooting,” Zhou said. “Most Chinese parents only have one child and if they lose their child, they’ve lost everything. It’s a loss that you can only imagine.”