UNIVERSITY PARK (CBSLA.com) — The LAPD’s Criminal Gang Homicide Division Thursday was investigating the death of a male USC student at an apartment complex near campus.
Police responded around 7 a.m. to a radio call of an “ambulance death investigation” in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, the LAPD said.
Once officers arrived on scene, they found the body of a 24-year-old Chinese graduate student in a fourth-floor unit of the City Park Apartments.
In a letter to the USC community, university officials said the victim was an engineering student.
Thursday evening, the School of Engineering identified the victim as Xinran Ji. They said he joined the school in the last fall and was “a beloved member of the Viterbi and Trojan family.”
“Student Affairs is reaching out to the student’s family, roommate and friends to offer all appropriate support and counseling,” USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett said.
Her statement also said: “Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the student’s death, which appears to have occurred sometime this morning from a head injury, the cause of which has not been determined.”
The statement went on to say: “We will wait for more information from LAPD before drawing any conclusions. From all early indications, this was an isolated incident and there was and is no apparent threat to the campus community.”
CBS2’s Randy Paige said crime scene investigators were also collecting evidence from outside the apartment, as much as a block away, including possible blood drops.
He spoke to a student who lives in a similar apartment building across the street. She told him the buildings were very security-conscious.
“You need a separate key for the lobby door,” said Kehui Tan, “and then you need a password to use the elevator and then a key for your own apartment.”
At a Thursday evening news conference, LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman confirmed the attack took place outside the victim’s apartment, believed to have been on 29th Street, near Orchard around 12:45 a.m.
“Somehow, the victim got back to his apartment,” Neiman said.
He also said Xinran might have been attacked with an unknown blunt instrument and by as many as three assailants while he walking home from a study group meeting.
No motive was established for the assault.
“The investigation is on-going,” Neiman said.
Xinran, who apparently had just walked a friend home, did not call police.
“Someone else called police,” Neiman said.
The victim’s family members has been notified in China, and the university is helping them make arrangements to travel to Los Angeles.
The homicide has many students shaken up, especially students from China.
Two years ago, two Chinese students were shot to death while sitting in a car near the USC campus.
“First of all, I was really shocked, and it reminded me of what happened in 2012,” said Michelle Jin, a USC film student. “If I have to walk around at night, I’ll call campus cruiser to give me a ride. We try our best to look out for each other.”
Anyone with information should contact the LAPD.