LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four people, two of them juveniles, have been arrested in the robbery and beating death last week of a Chinese graduate student near his off-campus apartment, Los Angeles Police officials said on Monday.
The body of Xinran Ji, 24, an electrical engineering student who enrolled at the University of Southern California in 2013, was discovered on Thursday morning at his apartment, a few blocks away from where police said he had been attacked some six hours earlier.
Jonathan DelCarmen, 19, and Andrew Garcia, 18, along with a 17-year-old male and 16-year-old female, have been arrested on murder charges in Ji’s death, Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said.
“I don’t know why a group of young people would go on a crime spree as terrible as this, as horrible as this, and do these kinds of unspeakable things to someone who’s just walking home at night,” Smith said.
Special circumstances could make the defendants subject to the death penalty, Smith said. The four suspects are also accused of taking part in a separate robbery later that morning.
Ji was walking to his home near the campus around 12.45 a.m. when five people beat him in what Smith said might have been an attempted robbery. Ji eventually arrived home, where he died of his wounds in the early morning hours.
Police believe the suspects drove to Dockweiler Beach and took part in another robbery.
A fifth suspect, a 14-year-old girl, was also arrested in connection with the second robbery, Smith said. Police are investigating whether she was involved in the killing.
Police said USC’s security measures helped officers to make swift arrests.
Security was tightened following the murders of two USC graduate engineering students from China in the spring of 2012, shot to death as they sat in a parked car near the campus in what police said was a robbery attempt gone wrong.
Two men were arrested and charged with the double slaying, a crime that stunned the prestigious private university. One suspect pleaded guilty to two counts of murder earlier this year and was sentenced to life in prison. His co-defendant is still awaiting trial.
USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering will host a memorial for Ji later in the week.
Writing by Dan Whitcomb,; Editing by Eric Walsh, Curtis Skinner and Ron Popeski