USC details new security measures after shooting

AP News
Posted: Apr 26, 2012 2:34 PM
USC details new security measures after shooting

The University of Southern California and Los Angeles police announced new security measures Thursday following the unsolved killings of two Chinese graduate students near a campus that promotes itself as an international destination.

More video cameras, security escorts and dozens of additional police officers will strengthen security on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods that contain student housing, officials said at a news conference.

"We will make this the safest campus of any urban campus," Police Chief Charlie Beck said.

Ming Qu, 23, of Jilin, and Ying Wu, 23, of Hunan, were shot on April 11 while sitting in a BMW about a mile away from the campus. Their killer fled in the rain.

No motive for the attack has been released. Investigators have said the attack might have been a robbery or attempted carjacking but other possibilities were being considered.

Beck said investigators were making progress in the case but he declined to provide details.

The shooting sent shockwaves through the school, which has the largest number of international students of any U.S. university. Roughly 19 percent of the school's 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa referred to the school's athletic teams during his visit to China: "There were large numbers of alumni there, reminding me _ Go, Trojans!"

The campus is located in an urban center a few miles south of downtown. It is across the street from county museums and not far from the Staples Center arena and a gentrifying area of Victorian homes. Yet it also was known as a crime- and gang-infested area.

Beck said violent crime in the area has declined 27 percent in the past two years and 20 percent so far this year compared to 2011.

"This was an awful singular incident but this is not the trend in the USC area," he said.

The additional security will include sending over 30 more officers to the department division that handles the USC area, and the university will pay for four additional officers to patrol the student residential neighborhoods, Beck said.

Those officers could cost the school about $600,000 based on the usual salaries and benefits for patrol officers, police Cmdr. Andy Smith said.

In addition, Los Angeles police will add a detective to be a liaison with USC security and will use computer-aided models to help predict crime areas. Smith said police also will increase parole checks on known gang members in the area and a prosecutor from the city attorney's office will be assigned to handle the region.

USC President C.L. Max Nikias said the shooting so far has not affected overseas recruiting efforts.

"We don't want this singular tragic incident to mask or cast a shadow on the image of the university," he said.

The school has been reaching out to alumni, parents of prospective overseas students and USC offices abroad in China, Taiwan, Korea, Mexico and other areas to let them know about the school's security efforts, Nikias said.

Nikias said the shooting has rarely been mentioned at admissions events in China and the U.S., which draw hundreds of parents and prospective students.