LAPD arrests four suspects in Viterbi student murder
The Los Angeles Police Department held a press conference at 4 p.m. Monday to announce the arrest of four suspects in connection with the murder of USC graduate student Xinran Ji.
According to LAPD Commander Bill Scott of the South Bureau, Johnathan DelCarmen, 19, and Andrew Garcia, 18, were arrested and will be charged with murder with special circumstances. Garcia was also charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. If convicted, the two suspects could face the death penalty. Two juveniles aged 17 and 16 were also arrested today on charges of murder, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. In addition, a 14-year-old female juvenile is being held on other charges in connection with the suspects, but she has not been charged in relation to the incident at the University Park campus.
According to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, Ji was walking home at approximately 12:45 a.m. on July 24 when he was “set upon by five individuals” who beat him during what police believe might have been an attempted robbery. Ji was struck with a baseball bat and managed to return to his apartment, where he died and was later discovered by his roommate, who called the police.
After allegedly assaulting Ji, Smith said the suspects drove to Dockweiler State Beach, where they allegedly assaulted two other victims. Officers from the LAPD Pacific Division arrested two suspects near Dockweiler and subsequently arrested the three remaining suspects later in the day. Smith said that the existing surveillance technology “went a long way” in helping with the investigation, but he did not provide specifics on its involvement in the case.
“[This crime] makes even seasoned homicide detectives stop and shake their head and ask ‘What kind of person could do such a thing?’” Smith said.
Smith said the crime “profoundly affected” the LAPD and the Los Angeles and USC communities and that they are evaluating their officer deployment and other policies to ensure the safety of USC students and the community. Commander Scott called the crime a “senseless act of violence” and said that the LAPD “will do everything in our power to prevent such a crime from happening again.”
Todd R. Dickey, senior vice president for administration at USC, also made a brief statement at the press conference, in which he expressed his sympathy to the family of the victim and thanked the LAPD and the Dept. of Public Safety for their efforts.
Dickey said that Ji, a second-year electrical engineering graduate student, was an avid photographer and cyclist. He graduated from Zhejiang University in China where he received a scholarship for outstanding research and an award for mathematics.
“Although the only true justice would be returning Mr. Ji to his loved ones, [these arrests] allow us to start moving forward from this tragedy,” Dickey said.
Dickey said that while LAPD and DPS have been working extensively to improve security on the University Park campus, “tragic events can occur despite our best efforts.” He said that DPS will “redouble” its efforts and continue to work with LAPD to maintain a safe environment for students.
“Nothing is off the table,” Dickey said, “Student safety is our highest priority.”
DPS Deputy Chief David Carlisle said that DPS is evaluating all policies and procedures following the incident. Though DPS and LAPD remain fully staffed year round, Carlisle said the number of contracted private security personnel is reduced by about 50 percent over the summer, when the majority of students are away from campus.
In a letter to the community, USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett praised the LAPD for their swift handling of the case, but added that it did not lessen the pain of the loss.
“While we were relieved to hear the news of the arrests and we are confident that the investigation will lead to the appropriate punishment of those who committed this heinous act, we continue to grieve deeply as a community for Xinran, his family and his friends,” Garrett said in the statement.
Dickey said the Viterbi School of Engineering will hold a memorial service for Ji when his family arrives from China later this week.