Student suspect arrested in fatal stabbing of USC professor on campus – Los Angeles Times
A USC psychology professor was stabbed to death inside a campus building Friday, allegedly by a student who was taken into custody, Los Angeles police said.
Bosco Tjan, a co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center who joined the faculty in 2001, was identified as the victim by USC President C.L. Max Nikias.
“As the Trojan family mourns professor Tjan’s untimely passing, we will keep his family in our thoughts,” Nikias said in a prepared statement. He said counseling would be available for students.
Police received a 911 call from USC around 4:30 p.m. about a victim with multiple stab wounds, said LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar. Responding firefighters found Tjan’s body inside the Seeley G. Mudd Building in the southwest corner of campus.
Tjan was stabbed in the chest, authorities said. The suspect, whose name was not released, is a man in his 20s, police said. He was apprehended at the scene and was taken into custody without resistance.
“We want to make clear this was not a random act,” Aguilar said. “This victim was targeted by the suspect.”
Aguilar said police were interviewing possible witnesses at the campus police station across the street from the Mudd Building, which houses the psychology department and classrooms used for biology, chemistry and other science courses. Clusters of students passed by the building but could not pass through the area, which has been cordoned off.
Earlier in the day, USC sent out a campuswide alert about the police activity on campus. “No danger to USC or the community,” the text said. “Stay away from area.”
The murder did not appear to rekindle widespread concerns about safety on and around the campus, which flared after high-profile slayings of three graduate students from China a few years ago and prompted USC to adopt more extensive security measures.
Murad Houry, a senior pre-med student, said the murder did not make him feel less safe. He said it only made him more aware of how violence can occur anywhere and saddened that some students could be stretched to such unimaginable limits.
When he heard the news, he said he immediately thought of the slaying of a UCLA professor earlier this year by one of his students. William Klug, a popular engineering professor, was shot and killed by Mainak Sarkar, 38, a former doctoral student who accused him of stealing his research and giving it to someone else.
“UCLA immediately came to mind,” he said. “Another stressed out student, another professor.”
Houry, a resident assistant for many pre-med freshmen who took classes in the Mudd Building, texted all of them to check on their safety. They were fine, he said, but he was preparing to offer support and a listening ear to them tonight.
Yesenia Brasby, a freshman pre-med student who had a chemistry class this semester in Seeley G. Mudd, said it was shocking that this happened right next door to the police station.
“We feel safe in our little bubble, but that’s just not the case. Anything can happen anywhere,” she said. With the recent stabbings at Ohio State University and the UCLA shooting, she said, “I feel like I always try to be aware of my surroundings now. Just because there’s a gate (on campus), doesn’t mean something won’t happen inside, on campus.”
Zhongtang Li, a fourth-year doctorate student in chemical engineering from Shanxi, China, said he was shocked by the slaying as he encountered a campus police barricade near the Mudd Building and had to turn around and walk home in the opposite direction.
He said the stabbing seemed more frightening than a shooting because it was up close and personal. Li, who is a teaching assistant, said he does not feel as safe as before and is second-guessing how he interacts with his own students.
“I think I’m good with my students, but even so, I will be even more careful now on whether I’m going too hard on them,” he said.
“I’m worried. It seems like more and more people are losing self control … USC is a good school, the students here work hard to come here, they have a good education — how can anyone act like this?” he said. “I’ve been here for so long; this is the worst thing to have happened on campus, the hardest to understand.”
He said he thinks about the other senseless murders that have happened off campus. “Random killings off campus, now a stabbing on campus,” he said, shaking his head.
“I’m just trying to graduate as soon as possible,” he said, walking quickly away.
In July 2014, Xinran Ji — then a 24-year-old engineering student — was bludgeoned to death near campus with a baseball bat and wrench while walking home from a study group. He managed to crawl to his apartment but died in his bed.
Prosecutors say three males and a female targeted him because he was Chinese and they suspected he had money. All four were charged with one count of murder each, with the special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery in the attack, which was caught on surveillance cameras.
A jury convicted the female — Alejandra Guerrero, now 18 — of first-degree murder in October. Trials for the three men — Andrew Garcia, 20, Jonathan Del Carmen, 21, and Alberto Ochoa, 19 — are expected to begin next year.
Two other graduate students from China were murdered less than a mile from USC in April 2012. Ming Qu and Ying Wu, who were studying electrical engineering, were talking after a night at the library, parked outside the home where Wu lived on a tree-lined stretch of Raymond Avenue just south of Adams Boulevard.
A gunman approached Qu’s BMW and opened fire on both students, shooting Qu in the head and Wu in the chest. Qu attempted to run for help and was found collapsed on a nearby porch, while Wu was discovered slumped over in the passenger seat of the car.
Javier Bolden and Bryan Barnes were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders.