While police searched for the three people who killed a Chinese USC graduate student as he was walking home from a study group, friends and classmates devastated by the death of 24-year-old Xinran Ji placed flowers outside of his off-campus apartment on Friday.
“He just finished his study, group study, and goes from his friend’s home to his home, and on the way he was attacked,” USC student Rui Feng Zhang said, standing in front of Ji’s apartment building.
Ji was walking back to his apartment, which was located on 30th street just blocks from the USC campus, when he was approached by three people in the area of 29th Street and Orchard Avenue at about 12:45 a.m. on Thursday, according to Lt. Andy Neiman with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“It is believed that a blunt force object was used, we do not know what that object was” Neiman said during a news conference on Thursday.
Ji was able to stumble back to his fourth floor unit at City Park Apartments, leaving a trail of blood behind. His roommate found his lifeless body shortly after 7 a.m., according to LAPD.
Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the attack.
Ji was the third graduate student from China killed near the campus in less than three years. In April 2012, Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot and killed in an apparent botched robbery.
The latest attack raised concern among some students from China who were attending the university.
“We are afraid to live here,” said student Ruo Han Gang.
She added that Ji’s death has made the news in China, and parents in the county were second-guessing whether to send their children to USC.
The university’s Department of Public Safety issued a statement in response to the latest incident.
“Unfortunately, tragic events of this kind can take place despite our best efforts, and our entire community is grieving the loss of our student. We will dedicate ourselves to the life and memory of Xinran Ji by redoubling our efforts to review and improve security,” the statement read.
Security in recent years has been beefed up on campus and in the surrounding area, with additional LAPD patrols and more than 150 surveillance cameras place around campus.
Still, officials have urged students to use the free campus cruiser service and to avoid walking alone in the area at night.