LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Students, family and friends gathered at USC’s Newman Hall on Friday to pay tribute to a 25-year-old graduate student who was fatally beaten near campus last week.
Xinran Ji was walking home around 12:45 a.m. from a study group when he was beaten and struck in the head with a bat near the corner of 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, according to the L.A. District Attorney’s Office.
He managed to get back to his fourth-floor apartment, where he was later found dead by his roommate.
Two adults and two juveniles have been charged with Ji’s death.
The electrical engineering student had graduated from Georgetown University with honors. He had the opportunity to return to his native China but instead wanted to come to USC, according to Ji’s parents who arrived from China Thursday.
“Xinran is the only child of the parents. They really use all of their savings to support Xinran to come to the U.S. to study,” interpreter George He said on behalf of the parents. “Only one year left before his graduation and this tragedy, this terrible tragedy happened.”
At Friday’s memorial, services were held in both English and Chinese, making it clear the grief spreads across both continents.
Loved ones praised Ji as popular, hard-working and having a promising future.
“An excellent student in engineering. He was recognized as an innovator and a future leader in his profession. It was clear, I am told, at a very early age, that Xinran would thrive in a field where technical and critical thinking could shine,” acting USC President and Provost Elizabeth Garrett said.
The dean of the USC School of Engineering, Yannis Yortsos, announced a scholarship in Ji’s honor, which would be awarded every year to a foreign student.
“Like all of you, I am devastated,” Yortsos said. “So that out of Xinran’s senseless loss will grow the flower of hope and the seeds for a better world.”
It was a touching service that carried another message for law enforcement: plenty of people are counting on justice for a student who was taken from them much too soon.
Funeral services held by the student’s family are scheduled to take place Saturday at the mortuary.
Ji’s parents plan to return to China with their son’s cremated remains next week.