LOS ANGELES, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The tragic death of a Chinese student near the campus of University of Southern California (USC) last Thursday has sent shock waves yet again to Chinese students at the University.
"I sense panic among the Chinese students here, because we pass that area almost every day," said Peter Ye, a PhD student.
Xinran Ji, a 20-year-old graduate from China's Zhejiang University, was found dead in his off-campus apartment on Thursday morning. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, he was assaulted by a blunt force object in the area of 29th Street and Orchard Avenue by five young people as he was walking home from a study group at around 12:45 a.m.
After the attack, Ji managed to get back to his apartment in City Park, blocks away from the campus in the 1200 block of West 30th Street. A dried blood trail was still visible stretching down a residential street and outside the victim's apartment building.
His body was discovered around 7 a.m.
Three juveniles and 2 adults around 20-year-old were arrested Monday afternoon as suspects of the case.
After Ji's body was found, many USC Chinese students were startled. Many started to talk over WeChat, a mass communication tool popular among Chinese, sharing information and comforting each other. Some called their parents overseas, reassuring them that they were safe.
"Everybody on the WeChat is talking about this tragedy. The dorms for international students are very limited, so we have to live outside the campus. Meanwhile, even the paid on-campus parking spots run out very fast," said Siqi Wang, a graduate student, adding "USC is a very expensive school. We pay so much and get so little for our own security. It is just ridiculous."
On Monday, in response to Ji's death, a press conference was held in the adjacent city of Rosemead, calling for boycott against USC for the lack of security for its students while urging the university to provide accident insurance for every student.
Hong Deng, a lawyer who spoke on behalf of the parents of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, two other USC students who were shot to death near campus two years ago, asked for solution from both the University and the society following the series of homicide cases.
Wu and Qu were shot to death just a few blocks away from the campus during a botched robbery in April, 2012.
Located near the Los Angeles metropolitan area, USC has been having some safety issues for a long time. After the tragedy of Wu and Qu, extra security cameras were installed surrounding the campus. USC now has approximately 70 cameras and 50 license plate cameras in the community to deter crimes.
A security camera could be seen in a tree near one large splatter of the victim's blood on the ground, but it was unclear if the cameras had captured the attack.
The parents of Wu and Qu had sued USC for lack of protective measures for their students, but lost the case, due to the fact that the gun shooting incident happened outside of the campus and USC is not responsible for it.
After the killing of Wu and Qu, USC's Department of Public Safety and Los Angeles Police Department had announced that they would increase patrols by vehicle, bicycle and on foot. There are 34 security ambassadors in the campus area to ensure the safety of the students. USC also provides campus cruiser service for students, offering students either a walking or vehicle escort to their destination. For the off campus area, USC provides multiple kinds of service to make students feel safer.
According to Ye, the location that Ji was attacked is within the patrol area and at the north side of the campus, which is considered to be a safe area. Many students said the amount of the yellow cop ??had decreased significantly during the current summer break.
"I tried to go back earlier in the past two days to avoid anything bad. It is not quite safe when it gets dark," Ye said.
"I used to live in the area of 29th street, and now I really start to worry about my safety. I do not dare to walk in the dark anymore," Wang said.
The Campus Cruiser Program of USC's summer schedule is from 6 p. m. to 12:45 a.m., which means instead of walking back to the apartment, Ji could have taken a safer alternative and called for a cruiser to escort himself.
The number of students from China has grown significantly in recent years thanks to USC's good ranking and convenient location, accounting for nearly 40 percent of its international students.
In the past few years, U.S. universities have witnessed alarming shooting incidents, including Virginia Tech massacre and University of California - Santa Barbara rampage.
"After so many tragedies in USC, we should raise the awareness of campus security. We call for Chinese government to list USC as a Studying Advisory Area. Parents and students should put safety as priority while applying for college," said Hong Deng. Meanwhile, he said: "We request USC to get accident insurance for students. For so much tuition fee that the students have paid, it is reasonable for it to put down 200-300 dollars for students' accident insurance per year."
"I am the only child in the family. After hearing about so many incidents, my parents are worried to death," Wang said.