USC graduate student from China found dead after assault (updated)

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An engineering graduate student at the University of Southern California was found dead Thursday morning in his apartment, Los Angeles police report. 

The 24-year-old was found at 7 a.m. Thursday morning on the 1200 block of West 30th Street, LAPD Officer Bruce Borihanh told KPCC.

Los Angeles Police believe the student from China, identified as Xinran Ji, was assaulted by at least three suspects with a blunt object as he was walking a few blocks from campus back to his apartment around 12:45 a.m. Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

The assault took place in the area of 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, according to police, ABC7 reported. 

Ji was found dead at his residence the next morning, police said. 

"Upon further investigation, it did reveal that he was a victim of an assault and it's a homicide investigation," Borihanh said, adding that LAPD are working with USC's department of public safety.

In a letter to students, Provost Elizabeth Garrett said they are withholding the student's name until his family can be notified: 

Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the student’s death, which appears to have occurred sometime this morning from a head injury, the cause of which has not been determined. We will wait for more information from LAPD before drawing any conclusions. From all early indications, this was an isolated incident and there was and is no apparent threat to the campus community.

Officer Borihanh echoed the provost's concern.

"This happened off campus," Borihanh said. "We don't know if there's any direct correlation to on-campus activities, however, just as a general rule  everyone should be aware of their surroundings at all times." 

USC's Daily Trojan reports the investigation is taking place at the City Park Apartments on West 30th and Vermont Street. Police have roped off the area, CNS reports.

Two USC students from China were shot to death in 2012 while sitting in a car in the West Adams neighborhood near campus after what police believe was a botched robbery. 

RELATED: 2 USC students from China shot to death in West Adams area

This story has been updated.

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