Early in the investigation into the killing of two USC graduate students, Los Angeles police found evidence that led investigators to believe the deaths were linked to two earlier attempted murders, Chief Charlie Beck said.
Two suspects were arrested Friday in the April 11 shooting deaths of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, a new development in a case that generated international attention because of the brutal nature of the crimes and because the students were from China.
The case also focused attention on the Los Angeles Police Department and security around the campus of the University of Southern California, which is southwest of downtown LA.
Bryan Barnes, 20, from South LA and Javier Bolden, 19, of Palmdale, were arrested Friday, Beck said in a press conference.
The pair, whom Beck described has having minor records, were booked with no bail on suspicion of murder into 77th Street Station Jail. They are expected to make their first court appearance Tuesday.
During a press conference on Friday night, Beck mentioned both material and forensic evidence linking the suspects to the shooting of Wu and Qu, which he said is still being investigated as a "street robbery." Beck provided few details.
"Material evidence … directly linked our victims to both suspects," he said.
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that one of the victim's cell phones had been tracked to the suspect.
The newspaper said Barnes was the suspected gunman and Bolden was suspected of being present during the crime.
On Friday, Beck also referred to forensic evidence recovered from the scene, saying it quickly linked the case to two earlier attempted murders.
"Early on, forensic evidence made us suspect quite strongly that this was a part of a larger series of crimes that had occurred in Los Angeles committed by the same means," Beck said.
He would not elaborate on the other crimes or the evidence, but The Times reported that an anonymous police source said ballistics tests had linked the gun used to kill Wu and Qu to two other shootings.
Beck said the department is still seeking evidence and more information on the two suspects. Asked about the weapon used in the shooting, Beck said the search was continuing.
"Anybody who felt like they couldn't come forward while these suspects were still outstanding, please do so. We want more information," Beck said.
Wu and Qu, two 23-year-old electrical engineering graduate students from China, were driving home from the library around 1 a.m. on April 11. The pair was double parked in a BMW sedan on Raymond Avenue south of Adams Boulevard off campus when they were shot.
Neighbors in the residential neighborhood, several blocks west of the USC campus, reported hearing gunfire.
The male student, Qu, ran from the vehicle, apparently seeking help from neighbors. His body was found on the porch of a nearby residence.
Police arrested Barnes at about 4:30 p.m. Friday in the 1200 block of 91st Street in South LA.
Officers then boarded two waiting helicopters, which took them to the 6800 block of Atmore Street in Palmdale, where they arrested Barnes.
"I would say at least eight or more cop cars," South LA witness Carlos Nino said.
Detectives from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI worked on the case with LAPD detectives, Beck said.
"They left no stone unturned and spared no expense at the solving of this crime," Beck said. "People have the right to come to this city from anywhere in the world ... without being phased by vicious criminals."
Javier and Barnes are not documented gang members, but Beck said authorities believe they have gang affiliations.
The arrests came one day after the victims' parents filed a wrongful death suit against the university seeking unspecified damages, a suit USC officials said was "baseless."
USC President C. L. Max Nikias said Friday night that the arrests begin the "process of healing and of closing a painful chapter in the life of our community."
"We will always mourn the loss of Ying and Ming, but find comfort in the hope of achieving justice," Nikias said in a statement.
Annual scholarships were established in honor of the students, USC President C.L. Max Nikias said at a campuswide memorial service in April.
The shootings rattled the campus community and their substantial international student body. Wu and Qu were among the largest foreign student body in the United States.
Nearly 9,000 foreign transplants chose USC during the 2010-11 academic year, making the campus near downtown Los Angeles top in the nation for international students.
Between Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, enrollment by Chinese students jumped nearly 37 percent, according to that year's enrollment report.