US police and federal investigators arrested two men over the killings of two Chinese graduate students which shocked Los Angeles last month, officials said.
The men were detained in separate operations in south LA and Palmdale, north of the city, by teams including the LA Police Department (LAPD), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
University of Southern California (USC) students Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23, were shot in the early hours of April 11, as they sat in a car in an area southwest of downtown LA.
The two men arrested Friday were named as Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden. Neither had extensive criminal records or were known gang members, police told the LA Times, suggesting the killings may have been part of a botched robbery.
“I am proud of my investigators who worked tirelessly on this case,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “This was a case that reverberated throughout Los Angeles as well as internationally. This was a case that needed to be solved.”
The parents of the victims filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the USC earlier this week.
They noted that it “actively solicits international students, particularly from China, for its graduate studies program for which it receives a substantial sum of money from tuition to help fund the university.”
They also pointed out that the school’s website states the university “is ranked among the safest of US universities and colleges, with one of the most comprehensive, proactive campus and community safety programs in the nation.”
USC President C.L. Max Nikias voiced relief at the arrests, following what he called “this senseless and singular act.”
“The arrest of the suspects in the tragic deaths of our graduate students … begins the process of healing and of closing a painful chapter in the life of our community,” he said.
“We will always mourn the loss of Ying and Ming, but find comfort in the hope of achieving justice,” he added.