Arraignment was delayed for two men charged with capital murder for the shooting deaths of two University of Southern California graduate students.
The 23-year old victims sat in a car late at night in the West Adams neighborhood, not far from the university campus, when one of the suspects allegedly tried to rob them.
Chinese students and alumni from USC packed the L.A. County Superior courtroom downtown Monday.
“Because their family can’t be here, we just want to show our support,” said Ashley Zhang, a USC alumna.
Many of the students were disappointed that the arraignment was postponed.
“I think most people want to know the truth,” said Howard Wong, president of the Southwest Chinese Students and Scholars Association.
The defense asked for more time to review the case and obtain discovery notes from the prosecutor before the defendants enter a plea. Another arraignment hearing is scheduled for July 18.
“I would like to see that justice is done as soon as possible,” said Zhumin Chen, head of the education office for the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles. He said he spoke to the family of the Wu and Qu a few days before the hearing.
“They are still in great grief and they are also very concerned about what is going on here,” he said.
The shootings stirred discussion on both sides of the Pacific about the safety of international students on and near the USC campus.
Many students who belonged to the Chinese Students Scholars Association at USC displayed a signed banner that read “Protect our Safety.” The organization is circulating a letter of concern addressed to the L.A. County District Attorney.
“Many of the Chinese students and their family members, have now become very concerned about the safety of students in Los Angeles. The senseless killing of the two young and promising students shocked us all. We are counting on your office to help deliver justice in this case. We and many others in China and elsewhere are paying close attention to this case.”
The group wants to get 20,000 people to sign the letter and send it to the District Attorney.
“This was one son and one daughter. It can happen to any family. We really want to get the public’s attention,” said Luyang, Liu, a USC graduate from China.
Since the April shootings, USC and LAPD have assigned more police officers to the area around the school. Four officers have been assigned directly to the campus and areas just outside.
The parents of Wu and Qu filed a wrongful death lawsuit in May against USC. The suit alleges that the university actively recruits international students from China, touts the campus’ safety online, but does not provide patrols in the area where the students were killed. USC is asking for the suit to be dismissed.