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Murdered students' parents accuse USC of misrepresenting area's crime

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Su

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Suzan Nelson holds photos of Chinese foreign exchange students Ming Qu (bottom) and Ying Wu (top).

A lawyer representing the parents of two USC graduate students who were murdered in April accused the University of Southern California of misrepresenting the safety of the school's surrounding neighborhood to prospective students, according to new court documents filed Monday.

Attorney Alan Burton Newman represents the parents of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, who were murdered in what police have described as a botched car-jacking.

Newman filed the new documents in connection with a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the students' families.

The meat of the accusations is that the school is aware that its surrounding neighborhoods — where many of its students live — are "high crime." Despite this knowledge, the documents say, the school fails to provide security in areas where many students live.

The suit also claims that if USC had been up front about the safety concerns and off-campus housing situation, "many of the students would not have gone to USC." 

USC has said that the tragedy was a random act and not representative of the neighborhood.

At an April press conference concerning the shooting, then-LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon said the neighborhood has changed dramatically in the past few years. (Gannon retired in August.)

"We’ve had a total of three murders in this area in the last five years," Gannon said. "In fact, violent crime in this area is down nearly 50 percent as it relates to just five years ago."

Over the summer, the school beefed up campus security, coordinated with LAPD to provide additional patrols, and put together safety seminars for incoming students. 

Two men have been arrested and charged with capital murder in Wu and Qu's deaths. Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden are due in court November 20, the day a judge is scheduled to set a preliminary hearing date. 

 

Wrongful Death Suit

This story has been updated.

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