My heart sank when I found out two Chinese USC graduate students were shot dead last Wednesday. Two young lives were taken away randomly just like that, without warning, shot right in their car right in front the house one of them lived in at the time. . These two, one boy and one girl, were both EE graduate student at SC. This made it more sickening ..., I was a graduate student at USC studying computer science 13 years ago - I was just like them.
Everybody at SC, when I was there, more or less knew the parameters of the so called safety zone. The SC campus, on each side, is surrounded by pretty bad neighborhoods. There is just no other way to describe it. The neighborhoods are bad, projects and old shabby houses occupied mostly by recent migrants from south of the border. You see it and you know violence. Drugs are prevalent in those neighborhoods. I used to live on Portland street, not far from where the shooting occurred, and I knew back then going out late at night was probably very unsafe. I wish these two young people had known better.
But how can one fault these two poor soul's innocence. I remember a few years back in 2008 I sold my kia to a USC Chinese student then. I helped the kid drive the car to his place after we finished the transaction. I was quite shocked by the location he and other Chinese roommates chose to live. I wouldn't call it safe in any stretch of my imagination. The kid told me that he didn't have much choice and he thought the place should be ok if they are vigilant enough. Aaahhh, innocent kid without much life experience in the US..., they didn't know the risk of being preyed on in a neighborhood like that.
As sad as this news made me, this sort of travesty didn't just happen for the first time in the area. I remember years ago when I lived in the Korean town, a Korean lady was shot dead not far from our apartment at night after her work right in her garage. Except for reporting by the local Korean newspaper, that incident was not as widely publicized, albeit having somewhat similar facts as the instant USC shooting. Other horrible also had happened in the area, rape, gang shooting, etc, etc. Given the area is filled with young USC students, new immigrants all over the world and mostly working class families, it is one of the most complicated places in L.A., which is not a small town.
I so wish the Chinese student that spent $10k on a used BMW would have bought a modest car and used savings to rent a place in a safer place closer to the campus. But, how can one fault innocence! I am sad.