Friends of Ming Qu and Ying Wu gathered in front of Leavey Library on Wednesday night for a candle light vigil to remember the Viterbi School of Engineering graduate students from China who were fatally shot in April and to stress the importance of safety around the campus.
About 20 students crowded around a table displaying photos of the victims and two lit candles to pay their respects on the three-month anniversary of the shooting, as is customary to do in Chinese culture 100 days after death.
Haowang Wang, a graduate student studying industrial and systems engineering and former president of the USC Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and Julia Liu, a close friend of Qu’s family, spoke to guests about the importance of remembering Qu and Wu.
“Ninety days is not so long, but a lot of people already forget,” Liu said. “We read the news every day: Somebody was killed. It’s happened to another person, not to us. But, right now, we have friends in this tragedy, so we want society to remember them.”
Wang led guests in a standard three-minute moment of silence, which was followed by individuals stepping up to the photos to pay their respects and send well-wishes to Qu and Wu.
“As time passes, people will forget what happened, no matter how severe or significant the issue is,” said Joy Xing, a second-year engineering graduate student and friend of Qu and Wu. “We want to remind people that we had two excellent students and this was a senseless killing.”
Qu and Wu were shot and killed April 11 around 1 a.m. in an apparent robbery attempt while sitting in Qu’s car near the intersection of 27th Street and Raymond Avenue, sparking questions of the University Park Campus area’s safety. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Qu and Wu’s families claims USC intentionally misrepresented the safety of the area to international students. The university has since moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but Wang and Liu both stressed the importance of safety during the vigil.
“You need to protect yourself,” Liu said. “No matter which country you came from, which state you came from, you need to protect yourself.”
Members of the CSSA also rolled out a banner reading, “Protect Our Safety.” Han Wang, who completed his master’s program at USC in 2010, said the CSSA made the banner about a month ago.
“It’s to keep in mind that we need to protect ourselves, like in foreign countries away from our home,” he said. “The USC neighborhood is not the safest place, so this is a way for Chinese students to keep in mind that they need a safe neighborhood.”
Xing also passed out fliers urging people to attend the arraignment of suspects Bryan Barnes, 20, and Javier Bolden, 19, on July 18. Barnes and Bolden were arrested in May and now face murder charges.
Xing said the CSSA created a petition calling upon the Los Angeles District Attorney for harsh punishment. She said the petition closed on the initial June 25 arraignment date but their message remains the same after the arraignment was postponed to July 18.
“We want them to give justice to my friends,” she said. “And we want them to emphasize campus safety so students can be aware of this safety issue.”