The university is offering a $125,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect or suspects in the murder of two USC students, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement.
Graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were fatally shot early Wednesday morning while sitting in Qu’s car near the intersection of Raymond Avenue and 27th Street.
Detectives found no signs of a robbery, struggle or altercation at the scene where Qu and Wu, both 23 years old, were shot and killed, said LAPD Homicide Detective Supervisor Sal LaBarbera.
The gunman approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, where Qu sat, and fired multiple shots from five to six feet away, LaBarbera said. The shots shattered the driver’s side window.
Detectives said the gunman fled south on Raymond Avenue.
LaBarbera said Qu got out of the vehicle to seek help after he and Wu were shot. Officers found Qu collapsed on the front porch of Wu’s residence on the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue. Wu was found in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. The car was double-parked with its hazard lights flashing.
Qu and Wu were transported to the California Hospital Medical Center shortly after 1 a.m., where they were pronounced dead.
Detectives said no DNA from the suspect was obtained at the scene. Rain was pouring down at the time of the shooting and might have washed away possible evidence.
LaBarbera said it was normal for Qu to visit Wu at her residence.
“That was routine for them,” LaBarbera said. “He would normally bike over and meet her, but in this case he drove because of the rain.”
Both victims were second-year graduate students studying electrical engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering.
Investigators do not have a motive, but they believe the suspected male shooter acted alone. No further description of a suspect has been released.
Surveillance footage from nearby businesses on Normandie Avenue and footage obtained from DPS surveillance and license plate recognition cameras in the area are being reviewed. There are no cameras installed directly on Raymond Avenue.
LaBarbera said gang members live in the neighborhoods north and south of the block where the shooting occurred, but the block where Wu lived is home to mostly families and students.
“This is definitely an isolated incident,” LaBarbera said.
Detectives have not determined a motive or whether the shooting was gang-related.
“We do have some good leads that we’re working on,” LaBarbera said. “We have over a dozen homicide detectives working on the case.”
Members of the FBI, DPS Officers and LAPD Officers from the Southwest Division are also assisting with the investigation.
Administrators at USC pledged to fully cooperate with the investigation and will offer support to the victims’ families, friends and anyone affected by the murders.
“We want to make sure they get connected to the right support,” said Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean of students.
Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni said the university is working toward holding an on-campus memorial service, preferably with the parents of the victims present.
“We’re very respectful to what the students’ families would want,” Soni said.
Denzil Suite, associate vice president for student affairs, said the Chinese Consulate-General in Los Angeles is working with the university to help communicate with Wu and Qu’s parents, should they wish travel to Los Angeles.
“[The Chinese Consulate-General] visited campus [Wednesday],” Suite said. “We’re having a discussion of how we can coordinate with the family.”
Qu’s parents live in the Jilin province of China. Wu’s parents reside in the Hunan province. University officials could not give a timetable as to when the parents might obtain visas to travel to the United States.
Detectives encouraged anyone with information to call the LAPD’s Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341 or the Detective Information Desk at the 24-hour toll-free number 877-LAPD-24-7.
“Anything would help us,” LaBarbera said. “We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to solve this case.”