LOS ANGELES – Two men were charged Tuesday with murder in the shooting of two University of Southern California graduate students from China — a crime that sent shockwaves through the university community.
Bryan Barnes, 20, and Javier Bolden, 19, also were charged with attempted murder in unrelated shootings at parties in South Los Angeles a few months earlier.
They were arrested Friday in the April 11 killing of 23-year-old students Ming Qu of Jilin and Ying Wu of Hunan. The students were shot while seated in a car about a mile from the USC campus.
Authorities believe the killings occurred during a robbery, leading to special circumstance allegations that make Barnes and Bolden eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
The district attorney's office will decide later whether to seek the death penalty. The suspects were expected to be arraigned later Tuesday.
Police said shell casings tied the suspects to the shooting of the students and the other attacks.
In addition to the killing of the students, Barnes and Bolden were charged with the attempted murder of a 20-year-old man who was shot and wounded at a party last Dec. 3.
Barnes also was charged with one count each of attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm at another party on Feb. 12. He is accused of firing numerous rounds, seriously injuring a woman and a man who was paralyzed. Both victims are in their 20s.
The parents of the Chinese students have filed a lawsuit accusing USC of misrepresenting security at the campus, where nearly one-fifth of the 38,000 students are from overseas, including 2,500 from China. USC says it has more international students than any other U.S. university.
USC lawyer Debra Wong Yang said the university was deeply saddened by the deaths but found the lawsuit to be baseless.
The school and city police announced new security measures after the slayings and promised more video cameras, escorts and patrols.