The University of Southern California said two international graduate students were shot and killed in a possible carjacking early Wednesday morning. The two students, a young woman and a young man from China, were identified as Ying Wu and Ming Qu, said the university.
The couple was reportedly sitting in a BMW when the unknown assailant opened fire approximately 1 a.m. The gunman shattered the car windows as the woman, Wu, succumbed to her wounds in the front passenger seat, reported the Associated Press.
Qu ran from the car to a nearby home, where he pleaded with the homeowners to call 911. It was not known if anyone answered the door before he collapsed, reported the AP.
Medical personal took the victims to California Hospital Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.
This is every parent's nightmare, said police Cmdr. Andrew Smith, according to the AP.
Our community is saddened and outraged by this callous and meaningless act, said the university in a statement. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims' families and friends and all who knew them at USC. The university is reaching out to those affected, offering counseling and support.
Both were graduate students of electrical engineering. They were both from China, but their exact hometowns and ages were unknown.
Police said the crime may have been an attempted carjacking and witness said the car was in the roadway, not at curb, at the time of incident, reported the AP. The gunman fled without the BMW. The car was taken away by police, pending analysis.
Police have not made any arrests.
We're just hoping we get a tip from someone in the area, said Smith, reported the L.A. Times.
While violent crime in the city is down 20 percent, four people have been killed this year in the area.
This incident occurred outside the neighborhood areas where over the past several years we have steadily increased our security presence, adding dozens of security and license plate recognition cameras, uniformed officers, and yellow-jacketed security ambassadors, said the university in a statement.
Residents said the area is peaceful. Gloria Tigolo, who lives in the area, told the AP this is the first shooting she can recall in the past three years. She said she only heard a single gunshot at the time of the incident.
It was just one big shot, she said. I am amazed that one gunshot could kill two people.
Until police find a suspect, the university has promised to make student safety a top priority.
While crime in our community is low compared to other areas of Los Angeles, we want to reassure you about ongoing efforts to promote safety in the neighborhoods around campus, including a public safety task force for students, parents, faculty and staff; a community safety task force with the USC Family of Schools; and a collaboration on public safety issues between the Department of Public Safety and the area's neighborhood councils, said the university.