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USC Shooting: Residents Defend Neighborhood

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At the intersection of 27th Street and Raymond Avenue, two USC graduate students were killed Wednesday morning after a possible carjacking, leaving residents horrified by the news and seeking more information.

"I woke up to gunshots at about 1 a.m. I ran outside and saw a girl shot dead in her car. There was blood all over her and I could see her guts," said Jose Maldonado through a translator. Maldonado lives a few doors down from the crime scene.

"What is going on in our neighborhood today?" one resident shouted from her car window, her eyes wide with exasperation. She said she goes by "V" -- not wanting to give her full name out of fear for what has happened in the neighborhood she's lived in for 18 years.

Pat, a resident known as the "Police Woman" because of her involvement with the neighborhood watch group, shared as much as she knew. She declined to give her last name.

"Some idiot shot some kids," she said.

The rest of the details are still unclear. According to Commander Andrew Smith in a phone interview, detectives are still investigating the shooting that left two USC graduate electrical engineering students, both from China, dead. USC News reported that the students were identified as Ying Wu and Ming Qu.

"We are seeking the public's help in finding the suspect," Commander Smith said.

The neighborhood is considered "historic" by its residents with their houses dating back nearly 100 years. Though the paint is chipping and some yards are overgrown at some residences, the majority of the two-story Victorian-style homes in the area are well-managed and spacious, a great place to live, many of the neighbors say.

Charlie Parker, who has lived in the neighborhood for nine years, said one of his other neighbors heard the shot and looked outside in time "to see a guy fall in the street and another guy run away."

He also said the silver-gray BMW had been parked on the east side of Raymond and that the female student had been driving.

There have been reports that the male student ran to a nearby house for help. Residents in the house left a sign requesting not to be interviewed.

Parker was stunned about the shooting.

"It's a multicultural area -- all types of races, a nice mixture of races," he said.

"Everyone's like a family here," said V, who said many of the USC students who live in the area also tutor at the nearby elementary school.

Though V said she's felt safe in the neighborhood for the past 18 years, the shootings have caused her to rethink that.

"It's so sad to wake up to something like this ... It makes you wonder what's next? You can't even go to school without someone messing with you? Where are we safe at?" she said.

Pat said she's more worried about what news of this will do to the image of her community.

"I wish the media would stop putting out that this is a dangerous neighborhood, 'cause it's not...every community has its problems," said Pat.

Pat said that many USC students live in the area because it's more affordable than USC housing.

"The kids live over here because it's cheaper, around 400 or 500 a month, if USC didn't charge as much as it does, students wouldn't live over here," she said.

Pat also pointed out some other cars parked along the street, a Buick, another BMW.

"They're making it about a kid having a BMW, we have plenty of kids who have BMWs, Jaguars, Mercedes, my son even drives a Mercedes -- they're making a point out of a car ... I've seen the neighborhood change, they do have gangs over here. They have their fights ... But we've never had a problem like this before," she said.

This post was originally published on Neon Tommy: Annenberg Digital News