Murders of Ming Qu and Ying Wu

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Homicide of Ming Qu and Ying Wu
Location 2700 Raymond Avenue,
Los Angeles, California, United States
Date April 11, 2012 (2012-04-11)
1:00 a.m.
Attack type
Murder, robbery
Deaths 2
Perpetrators Javier Bolden
Bryan Barnes

The murders of Ming Qu and Ying Wu occurred on April 11, 2012, when the two Chinese graduate students were shot to death after sitting in their BMW parked one mile outside of the University of Southern California (USC) campus in Los Angeles, California. Much criticism surrounded the British and American media's coverage of the incident after the Daily Mail and other sites[1] claimed, without evidence, that many Chinese news sources considered the two victims to have been irresponsibly showing off their wealth. It also sparked safety concerns around the campus in South Los Angeles, an area notorious for its history of crime-ridden neighborhoods.[2]

The two suspects, Javier Bolden and Bryan Barnes, aged 19 and 20 at the time of the shooting, were arrested in connection with the murders. In 2014, Barnes was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In October of the same year, Bolden was also found guilty, and in November was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.


On April 11, 2012, at 1:00 a.m., students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot to death after sitting in their parked 2003 BMW on the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, located one mile northwest from the University of Southern California campus. After noticing two men with guns approaching them in the car, Qu managed to get out of the car and run to a nearby home where he pounded on the door but was shot several times in the head. Wu was killed by a single shot to the chest while she was sitting in the front passenger's seat. At the time of the shooting, it was raining heavily, creating challenging conditions at the crime scene. Qu and Wu were both taken to California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles, where they were both pronounced dead on arrival. The two 23-year-old students were both from China and were studying electrical engineering.[3] Investigators believe that the motive behind the shooting may have been sparked during a carjacking or robbery.[1]


Police traced a cell phone taken by the perpetrators from the scene of the shooting. On May 18, 2012, that led to the arrest of Bryan Barnes, 20 years old, who was living near USC's campus in the South Los Angeles area. A second suspect, 19-year-old Javier Bolden, a resident of Palmdale, was detained that day. They were both charged with two counts of murder.[4][5] Bolden and Barnes were also charged with attempted murder in an unrelated shooting in December 2011 at a party in South Los Angeles, which left a woman seriously wounded and a man paralyzed.[6] Officials also suspect Barnes of firing multiple rounds at a party on February 12, wounding a 20-year-old man.[6] The two are eligible for the death penalty according to prosecutors.[7]


Legal proceedings[edit]

Bryan Barnes pled guilty to two counts of murder on February 25, 2014, and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Barnes also admitted two so-called special circumstances that could have made him eligible for the death penalty. Co-defendant Javier Bolden was convicted in October 2014 and sentenced to life without parole.


About one thousand people gathered at a memorial in mourning for the two victims at the Shrine Auditorium the following week of the shooting. Los Angeles Chinese Consul General Qiu Shaofang made the following statement: "The ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of education and the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles acted immediately after the tragedy happened and have committed [to] join efforts in tackling problems arising from the incident."[2][8] Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a response to the attack sending his condolences.


The US and UK media was heavily criticized for giving scant coverage of the murders themselves in favor of focusing attention on a subset of private Chinese netizens posting online comments who were generally unsympathetic about the incident and criticized the victims for unnecessarily showing off what they believed were luxurious items of theirs.[9] Such comments were not associated with any official news channels in China. Immediately after the shooting was reported, an anonymous article at the Daily Mail claimed further that Chinese news sites were not sympathetic to the murders, but did not provide any examples to back up such assertions. In any case, friends of the two victims stated that "'Ying and Ming lived a simple life during their nearly two-year study at USC. In order to keep their living expenses down, they both shared rooms with other classmates."[1]

The area surrounding University of Southern California's campus is an urban, low income community that has a historically high crime rate.[2][10] The parents of the two students filed a lawsuit against the school for misrepresenting security on campus.[6] The lawsuit was dismissed by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson in February 2013. Johnson found no connection between the killings and the University's self-reported efforts to protect students, stating that "Causation is an insurmountable issue for the plaintiffs." [11][12]


  1. ^ a b c "'They were showing off their wealth': Unsympathetic Chinese media says two USC students murdered in luxury BMW were killed because of their car". 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  2. ^ a b c Hentschel, Noel Irwin (2012-04-19). "Loss of Two USC Students From China and Their American Dream". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  3. ^ "Ying Wu and Ming Qu Murder Case: $125,000 reward offered for info about USC students slain in their car". CBS News. 2012-04-11. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  4. ^ "Ming Qu and Ying Wu Murder Case: Two arrested in the killings of USC graduate students, LA police say". CBS News. 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  5. ^ "Arrests Made In Connection With Murder Of 2 USC Students". CBS Los Angeles. 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  6. ^ a b c Deutsch, Linda (2012-05-22). "2 charged in killing of 2 USC students from China". Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  7. ^ "District attorney releases charges for two suspects". Daily Trojan. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  8. ^ Feldman, Asher (2012-04-18). "USC gathers to remember Ying Wu, Ming Qu". Daily Trojan. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Simone (2012-04-12). "Ying Wu, Ming Qu Murdered in BMW: Some in China Blame USC Grad Students for 'Showing off Their Wealth'". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  10. ^ "2 arrested in USC Chinese student killings". New York Times. 2012-05-18. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  11. ^ CBS Los Angeles "Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against USC Dismissed," February 15, 2013
  12. ^ abc 7 Eyewitness News, Los Angeles "Judge Sides with USC in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Fatally Shot Students," November 13, 2012