UPDATE: Robber Who Was Shot By USC Police Identified As Compton-Area Gang Member
On the eve of a memorial service for two USC international students shot and killed last week near the South Los Angeles campus, another shooting incident – this time involving campus police— took place a few blocks from the university.
Early Wednesday morning, a 24-year-old Compton-area gang member named Jeremy Hendricks allegedly robbed a group of students before fleeing the scene. He was shot in the leg by a USC police officer after he showed he was carrying a handgun. The suspect approached four USC students at West 28th and South Figueroa streets, and demanded items, placing them inside a backpack.
Two of the male students then followed the robber, before a USC public safety officer shot the suspect in the leg, and made the arrest.
Hendricks has had multiple prior arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and robbery, in addition to being on probation for manufacturing dangerous weapons, officials said.
Los Angeles police are trying to determine whether or not the suspected robber or his weapon have any connection with last week's murder of the two USC graduate students from China.
Layer upon layer of yellow tape blocked off sections of 30th Street, after a shot was fired early Wednesday morning following an incident between police and a suspected robber.
The single shot echoed down the street and stunned students and residents still grappling with the murder of two graduate students that occurred last Wednesday at the same time of night.
"After the first shooting, it's obviously an unsafe area, but I'm surprised something happened here," said Faez Khan-Mohamed, a USC economics major who lives on Shrine Place near where the shooting took place. "I thought right here was safe, but I guess we have to be on our toes at all times."
We are posting updates below as we get new information.
UPDATE 9:55 a.m. The LAPD has confirmed that the suspect in the armed robbery is Jeremy Hendricks, who is 24 years old.
Hendricks robbed two students out of the four he approached. Two of the male victims of the robbery gave chase to Hendricks after he fled from the scene, according to LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman, who called the area "relatively safe."
Neiman said police were "hopeful" that they might find a link between the robbery suspect and the gunman who killed two USC students last week, but added it was too early to speculate.
"In terms of a connection to the double-homicide that occurred last week, our homicide investigators are on scene and they are certainly looking into whether or not the suspect may be connected in any way, whether the gun is connected, whether the suspect has any knowledge or is connected to that," Neiman said. "We are hopeful we have a link, but it's way too early for us to make any speculation as to whether there's a connection."
Hendricks was shot by a USC officer after the suspect showed a handgun, police said.
Hendricks suffered a leg wound, was hospitalized and is in stable condition, according to City News Service.
Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman comments on the officer-involved shooting that took place near USC early Wednesday morning:
UPDATE 8:40 a.m. More than 8 hours after the incident happened, USC's Department of Public Safety sent out an email blast notifying students of the overnight shooting.
According to the email:
An African American male described as 5’8” tall, 160 pounds, robbed four students of property in the 600 Block of 28th Street. The suspect showed the students a weapon. The suspect fled the scene and two of the victims followed the suspect and were able to alert a DPS officer in the area. After hearing a description of the incident, the DPS officer chased the suspect and was able, with the assistance of an LAPD Officer to corner the suspect on 30th Street. An officer-involved shooting occurred and the DPS Officer fired one shot hitting the suspect in the leg. The suspect's weapon and the student’s property were recovered. LAPD is investigating the incident. The suspect is in custody and being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Disposition: The suspect will be booked for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
See a photo slideshow of the morning after (Photos by Editor-in-Chief Dan Watson):
UPDATE: 3:15 a.m. The campus Daily Trojan cites police saying that four USC students were confronted by a single male suspect on the street shortly after midnight who demanded they give him their property. The two USC female students complied and the suspect began to run across a parking lot as he was chased by Dept. of Public Safety Officers.
DPS Capt. David Carlisle told The Daily Trojan that the suspect, who didn’t suffer life-threatening wounds, was shot after being being seen with a weapon and confronted by armed university officers.
The wounded suspect was detained by LAPD officers called to the scene.
Three hours after the this morning's shooting in a neighborhood filled with students, the USC Department of Public Safety had yet to issue an email blast crime alert that goes to all emrolled students regarding the shooting.
Statistics compiled by The Los Angeles Times show the neighborhoods around the campus to be among the top 10-15% most violent of more than 200 communities studied by the paper.
Gerald Hinkson has lived west of USC for 40 years. While Hinkson noted that violent crime was a common occurrence in neighborhoods adjacent to the university, he said he was shocked to hear that such violence has nestled itself so close to campus doors.
"There are shootings all the time on the other side of campus," said Hinkson, "but this [shootings near campus] is news to me."
"What happened the other day [to the graduate students] surprised the heck out of me," he continued. "I was like what? Two students?"
Many students walking back in the middle of the night found themselves taped off from their apartments on 30th.
"Right now I can't walk you in," said one officer to a student looking to head back home. "In a few hours maybe."
Hinkson said over the past 40 years, he's seen the university's presence grow in the surrounding neighborhoods. He said that while he welcomes the "peaceful quiet" that came with the university's expanded security umbrella, he feared such growth might put students at greater risk to violence in tough neighborhoods.
His advice for staying safe? Stay alert.
"You need to be aware of your surroundings and watch your back at all times," he emphasized. "I've seen a lot of people get blown away, but I never thought it would be on this side because these are just college kids."
France echoed Hinkson's words.
"Lets not forget we're still in South Central Los Angeles," he said. "You've got to be alert."
A memorial service for the two Chinese students who died last week is scheduled for Wednesday night at the Shrine Auditorium across from campus.
Video from Annenberg Television News.