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Neighbors React To Arrests Of Suspects Linked To Murdered USC Students

Danny Lee, Paige Brettingen |
May 19, 2012 | 12:10 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporters

The blue two-story house where police arrested one of the suspects. (Paige Brettingen/Neon Tommy)
The blue two-story house where police arrested one of the suspects. (Paige Brettingen/Neon Tommy)
On Friday afternoon, SWAT teams swooped in on a two-story blue house along the 1200 block of 91st Street in South L.A. in pursuit of one of the suspects linked to last month's murders of two USC students.

Saturday morning gave another impression of the area—a calm, residential street where neighbors quietly tend to their chores, and in general, want to keep to themselves.

“In this neighborhood, we don’t really talk to anybody. [People] mind their own business so you don’t get to know anybody,” said a resident who did not give his name but lived just a few houses down from where one of the arrests was made.

“Things happen, but you don’t know who’s who ... You just take care of yourself,” he said.

From the neighbor’s 12 years of living in the area—other than some “little incidents” every once in a while—their neighborhood is not accustomed to police presence like what was witnessed on Friday. 

“Police don’t come until you call them,” he said. “You have domestic incidents here, but nothing of this magnitude where you have everything blocked off.”

The neighbor said he didn’t know Bryan Barnes, the 20-year-old who was arrested in the house on Friday afternoon, repeating how people "mind their own business." Police went on to arrest 19-year-old Palmdale resident Javier Bolden three hours later. Both men are scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

The suspects allegedly shot and killed Qu Ming and Wu Ying on April 11 while the two graduate students from China were sitting in a BMW around 1 a.m., about one mile northwest of the USC campus.

Other residents agree that their neighborhood is relatively quiet compared to others in the area, which is why it caught them off guard when 10 to 15 undercover police cars blocked their street and roped off the house with yellow tape.

“I grew up in the area,” said 18-year-old resident Aubrey Turner. “When neighbors told me police were on our street, it was kind of shocking. This is the quietest block in our area.”

Sandra Santiago, who has been delivering mail on the block for about two weeks, said she is still getting familiar with her route, but so far hasn’t noticed anything out of character about the area or the people who live there.

“I’m barely new here, but I haven’t heard anything bad,” she said. Santiago also said she didn’t realize an arrest had happened the day before.

Criminal activity in the Westmont area where the neighborhood is located shows the majority of recent crimes over the past month involve robbery and vehicle theft, according to The L.A. Times. Over the last six months, the area has a rate of 167.2 crimes per 10,000 people. The rate is lower than the surrounding areas of unicorporated South L.A., but it still ranks 10th in violent crimes (homicide, rape, aggravated assault or robbery) and 101st in property crimes out of L.A.’s 272 neighborhoods.

While the neighborhood may have regained some sense of calm on Saturday, residents say Friday’s events have them feeling a bit more unsettled than usual.

“You work hard and you do what you have to, but you don’t go around taking people’s lives senselessly for no reason. That doesn’t make sense,” said the unnamed 12-year resident. 

Police offered a $125,000 reward in April for information relating to the murders and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the reward would still stand in the hopes they might get more information from the public. However, according to Deputy Chief Pat Gannon, the LAPD has “a very strong case” against the suspects in the shooting.


Reach Staff Reporter Danny Lee here; Managing Editor Paige Brettingen here.



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