A University of Southern California engineering graduate student who was found dead in his off-campus apartment on Thursday was the victim of a brutal assault, police said.
The man’s body was discovered just after 7 a.m. on the fourth floor of City Park Apartments, which is located just blocks from campus in the 1200 block of West 30th Street (map), according to Sgt. Barry Montgomery of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The student was identified as Xinran Ji by Dean Yannis C. Yorsos of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
“Our engineering community as well as the entire Trojan Family was deeply saddened today to learn of the tragic death of one of our graduate students in electrical engineering,” Yorsos said in a statement. “We have spoken with Mr. Ji’s family in China and are making arrangements for them to travel to Los Angeles.”
Ji was assaulted in the area of 29th Street and Orchard Avenue by three people as he was walking home from a study group after midnight, according to LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman.
A trail of blood visibly stretched down a residential street and outside the victim’s apartment building.
“It is believed that a blunt force object was used, we do not know what that object was” Neiman said during a news conference shortly after 6 p.m.
The cause of death would be determined by the coroner’s office, Neiman added.
Investigators were working to determine a motive, and it was not immediately known if the victim knew his attackers.
Campus police told KTLA that they have a 150 security cameras off campus to deter or assist in crime, but it was unclear if the cameras captured the attack.
USC’s Department of Public Safety was also assisting in the investigation.
Ji started his graduate program in Fall 2013, Yorsos said in the statement.
He described Ji as “a beloved member of the Viterbi community and the Trojan Family.”
Yorsos added that information about a memorial service would be forthcoming.
Ji’s death comes a little more than two years after USC grad students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot and killed in a crime that occurred off campus, which along with another shooting outside the campus student center on Halloween, sparked major security changes on and around the campus.