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4 charged with murder in death of USC student

Police Arrest 4 in Death of Chinese Grad Student

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Four teens were charged Tuesday with murder in the beating of a University of Southern California graduate student with a baseball bat and wrench as he walked to his off-campus apartment after meeting with a study group.

Two of the suspects were juveniles charged as adults in the slaying of Xinran Ji, 24, an engineering student from China who was attacked early Thursday. He was able to make his way to his apartment despite being hit in the head with the bat. A roommate discovered him dead hours later.

The defendants - 17-year-old Alberto Ochoa, 16-year-old Alejandra Guerrero, 18-year-old Andrew Garcia and 19-year-old Jonathan Del Carmen - will be arraigned Aug. 12 on one count each of murder with a special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero also face a special allegation for personally using a dangerous weapon - the bat and wrench.

In 2012, two USC students from China were fatally shot during an off-campus robbery also during the early morning.

"For any family this is a horrible tragedy, but it's magnified by the fact that these Chinese families have sent their children so far away expecting that this was the best possible thing ... and now he's gone," Clayton Dube, executive director of the USC U.S.-China Institute, said about Ji.

Dube, who informed Ji's mother of her only child's death, said the university and the U.S. and Chinese governments were working to get Ji's parents to Los Angeles from Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia in northern China.

Ji had excelled at one of China's best universities and won a scholarship for excellence in research and innovation, according to the university. He also won a prize in Zhejiang University's mathematical modeling contest. Ji was an avid photographer, cyclist and enjoyed badminton.

He came to California several years ago on a tour. It was then that Ji decided he wanted to attend graduate school in the U.S. and he enrolled in fall 2013.

Ji had just escorted a study partner home when he was attacked, Dube said.

The consulate general of The People's Republic of China in Los Angeles called Ji's death cruel and said it was concerned about student safety. Students were reminded to take extra security precautions and representatives reached out to U.S. authorities to take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese students, according to a statement from the consulate.

Meanwhile, Chinese students traded messages of sadness and shock and a Taiwanese student association sent out a long message with security tips.

Attorney Daniel Deng, who is representing the family of the students killed in 2012 on a pro bono basis, urged the Chinese government to declare USC an unsafe place to study.

The attack prompted USC to review its program for educating foreign students about safety issues, said USC Department of Public Safety Deputy Chief David Carlisle.

"There will be improvements by the fall semester," Carlisle said. "We already do a pretty good job, but clearly there are areas to improve."

USC has the highest number of international students in the country, with more than 40 percent of them coming from China.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero were also charged with one count each of second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in another incident the same morning. Ocho and Guerrero were armed with a knife and bat in that incident, the complaint states.

Police believe the attackers drove to Dockweiler Beach after from the USC area and tried to rob a man and woman. The man escaped and notified police.

If convicted, Garcia and Del Carmen could face the death penalty for Ji's death. Ochoa and Guerrero can only face up to life in prison without possibility of parole because of their ages. All four are being held without bail.

USC's urban campus is within a mile of gang-plagued neighborhoods with historically high crime rates.

Since the 2012 killings, USC has added 60 security cameras, including some license plate readers, for a total of 178 cameras in a 1.8 square mile area that includes blocks off campus, Carlisle said. The university also deploys private security officers in the adjacent neighborhoods.

In addition, the Los Angeles Police Department has assigned about 30 more officers to the university community since 2012.

Foreign students receive a fall orientation that specifically addresses public safety, Carlisle said, but the school is now looking at ways to make it more robust and to find better ways to reach out to students, including possibly in their native languages.

Other proposals include looking at how officers are deployed, whether there should be more officers and whether those should be private security or Los Angeles police officers. The university is also looking at technological aids as well, including cellphone applications.

Join the discussion

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crotalus July 30 2014 at 3:19 AM

If the defendants are found guilty of this brutal crime, then I suggest we send them to China and let the Chinese administer justice.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
clb45para July 30 2014 at 8:45 AM

How can this be? We are told that only white men are racist, and guns cause crime. And in California too, where everyone loves each other, and diversity is king.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Joan July 30 2014 at 4:59 AM

Sincere thoughts and condolences to Xinran Ji's mother on the loss of her only child. Violence in this country makes us no better than third world countries. It needs to stop.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
5 replies
iwarriormom July 30 2014 at 6:12 AM

it is extremely sad (I struggle for words) to know that these brilliant students have been brutally killed. they had their whole life ahead of them. it strikes a deep disturbance in me. I know that in every culture there are wicked people who murder. there's evil inside of us all. Murder is murder. It's always senseless no matter what. these murders hit the inside of my core since I am Hispanic and the murderers have Hispanic surnames. my heart goes out to the families of these students, to the country of China.They lost wonderful human beings who were only trying to live their lives. I hope these people who killed them get what they deserve. I don't condone the death penalty for only God is the one who gives and takes away, but Lord, there are some in this world that do not deserve to live and these murderers are some of those......

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
Peter iwarriormom July 30 2014 at 5:04 PM

Thanks for your thoughtful words. Mr Ji is actually from Hohhot, Inner Mongolia of China. That's the land of Mongols, the nomads on the grassland. He is a bright and courageous young man just , always helping people around him.

There are great people from every race, many of them are Hispanics.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Peter iwarriormom July 30 2014 at 5:07 PM

Thanks for your thoughtful words. Mr Ji is actually from Hohhot, Inner Mongolia of China. That's the land of Mongols, the nomads on the grassland. He is a bright and courageous young man just , always helping people around him, just like many Mongols in the land. It is very tragic for entire Chinese community, as well as for Mongols.
There are great people from every race, many of them are Hispanics. Let's just pray and hope for a better world. All the best wishes.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
myroguisheyes July 30 2014 at 8:34 AM

If they are old enough to decide to commit a violent crime, then they should all face the death penalty.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
IBruzEZ July 30 2014 at 7:50 AM

Glad this garbage is off the street. The death penalty for sure for all of them.! Or as suggested... send them to China and let the Chinese deal with punishment. Condolesences to the family of this young man who was trying to study and advance his life in a good way.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
slop9124 July 30 2014 at 2:49 AM

If the four are guilty of the brutal beating of this student give them death by fireing squad, humane and quick.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
l2d3b July 30 2014 at 11:19 AM

More contributions from our out-of- control illegal immigration policies.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
fallmarita July 30 2014 at 10:08 AM

I work in this part of Los Angeles not more than a few miles from USC. It is a sad, dismal place filled with the desperation of people who have very little and even less at stake in their community. This is noticable in the dirty streets, animal carcass strewn roads, and rampant graffiti pissed on to walls by territory marking animals that would kill innocents for trending on their turf.

I have always thought of USC as a clean stop on a dirty face. So out of place and rip for the pickings like the sacking of Ancient Rome by hordes of Vandals, Goths, and Huns. This is exactly what these monsters did to this man worth ten times their value. Without a doubt they celebrated this great victory at McDonalds with tales of their skull bashing exploits as they relaxed and puffed on the Jane and drank a 40.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
HAMMER July 30 2014 at 7:51 AM

good job america letting the POS immigrants into our country.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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