A 24-year-old Chinese male graduate student was found dead Thursday morning on the fourth floor of City Park Apartments on W. 30th Street and Vermont Avenue.
According to LAPD Sergeant Barry Montgomery, LAPD Southwest division received a radio call from an ambulance at 7 a.m. Thursday to investigate a death. When officers arrived, they discovered the student deceased in his residence and contacted LAPD Criminal Gang and Homicide Division to begin an investigation.
Montgomery said the student “may have been the victim of an assault,” but the investigation is still in the early stages. Police have no information on a suspect, if any, at this time.
Dept. of Public Safety Deputy Chief David Carlisle said that DPS officers responded to the incident along with LAPD, but the investigation will be conducted by LAPD with assistance from DPS.
“DPS officers are assisting with the investigation by blocking traffic and protecting the crime scene, but LAPD is the lead investigator in this case,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle said they have no reason to believe there is a threat to the community. DPS will be briefed by LAPD as the investigation continues.
A letter to the community from USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett identified the student as an engineering graduate student and said he sustained a head injury.
“From all early indications, this was an isolated incident and there was and is no apparent threat to the campus community,” Garrett said in the statement. “Student Affairs is reaching out to the student’s family, roommate and friends to offer all appropriate support and counseling.”
The student was identified in a memo from USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos as Xinran Ji, a second-year electrical engineering graduate student.
“We have spoken with Mr. Ji’s family in China and are making arrangements for them to travel to Los Angeles,” Yortsos said in the memo. “We are providing our support to them as well as other members of our campus community who knew him.”
According to Lt. Andy Neiman, an LAPD spokesperson, Ji was walking home from a study session at approximately 12:45 a.m. when he was assaulted and struck with a blunt force object in the street near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue. An unidentified associate discovered Ji, who had managed to make it back to his apartment after the assault, and called the police.
Neiman said the police have information that at least three suspects were involved but, so far, none have been identified and no description was available. A DPS crime alert identified the vehicle as a “dark colored compact sedan.”
“The investigation is continuing and will continue until those responsible are found,” Neiman said.
Neiman said the motive of the crime and the connection between the suspects and the victim is still under investigation, but there is no reason to believe this was a targeted attack. He urged the public to come forward with any information regarding the incident.
Students expressed sympathy for the loss of a member of the Trojan family.
“It makes me feel so sad that this could happen to someone who had so much going for him,” Sharada Rayan, a junior majoring in computer science and business administration and a resident of City Park Apartments, said.
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Photos by Joseph Chen.