LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Two men were charged with capital murder Tuesday in the deadly shootings of two USC graduate students from China.
The suspects showed up late to court Tuesday and, although they were still charged, their arraignment was postponed. The defendants’ family and friends cheered when the judge said no cameras would be allowed at the arraignment.
Bryan Barnes, 20, and 19-year-old Javier Bolden were arrested Friday in connection with the April 11 shooting deaths of Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23.
Qu and Wu were fatally shot while sitting in Qu’s BMW, which was double-parked in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue. Police believe Barnes killed the victims and Bolden drove the getaway car. Both could face the death penalty, authorities said.
“Forensic evidence that was recovered at the scene of the double homicide linked that homicide to two attempted murders in the city of Los Angeles. Both Bolden and Barnes were connected to those other two attempt homicides,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
Investigators said the shell casings recovered at the crime scene played a critical role in leading them to Barnes and Bolden. The casings matched those recovered from a shooting at a party in December 2011, for which both suspects were charged with attempted murder. Barnes was charged with one count of attempted murder and firing a semi-automatic assault weapon at another man during a February 2011 party in South L.A. The casings at that shooting also matched those obtained from the shooting near USC.
The LAPD also reportedly tracked a cell phone taken from the scene to Barnes, who was arrested at a home on 91st Street during what neighbors describe as an eight-hour raid.
“Then they just started going in with machine guns and all kind of stuff and people started running out. They started chasing people, handcuffing people,” George Curel told CBS2.
Both suspects’ criminal records also include petty thefts, police reported. Sources say the two suspects have gang ties, but are not official gang members.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias has expressed gratitude for the arrests, but the families of the victims are suing the university, alleging the school misrepresented security at the campus to make itself attractive to foreign students.