Shooting near USC leaves one dead

The incident sparked concerns about the lack of transparency provided to USC community by DPS.

[Photo of LAPD squad cars lit up at night.]

A car-to-car shooting occurred near the USC campus on Jefferson Boulevard and St. Andrews Place on Sunday night, which left one 30-year-old victim dead.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of St. Andrews Liquor Mart around 8:30 p.m., said Rodolfo Lopez, LAPD Area Commanding Officer of the Southwest.

Following the shooting, the victim was driven about a mile and a half by a friend to Exposition Boulevard and Vermont, right at the southwest corner of campus, according to Lopez.

Approximately 13 minutes after the shooting, the USC Department of Public Safety tweeted that there was police activity on the south side of Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. It clarified that no immediate threat existed, but that people should stay away from the area.

Lopez said that no suspects have been identified or charged. The relationship between the shooter and the victim has not been determined.

USC students were made aware of the incident and subsequent police activity through a series of emails by DPS. The mass emails, which all current students, faculty and staff receive anytime there is a police encounter on or near the campus, notified recipients of “police activity” on Exposition Boulevard but mentioned nothing of a shooting occuring.

Many USC students have long felt frustrated concerning the lack of specificity about incidents in these emails from DPS. Sophomore Jolaiya Aldridge, a biological sciences major, was first made aware of the incident through the DPS alerts, but she said that she was “not surprised” by the lack of information.

“They always do that,” Alridge said. “I don’t understand. They make it seem like it’s not a big deal … we’re really not that safe here.”

Sophomore Adeel Chaudhry, a business administration major who lives off campus, was also unsurprised by the incident and the content of the mass emails

“It just definitely doesn’t feel the safest and makes you more cautious which makes you wish you were more protected,” Chaudhry said

Chaudhry, who witnessed the police activity on Exposition Boulevard, was unaware at the time that there had been a shooting.

“I know the streets that it was on and that’s very close to where I go a lot. So if I just saw police activity, I probably would have still gone,” Chaudhry said.

Sophomore Brandon McGowen, a business administration major, said USC should inform students properly about public safety incidents at the very least, if not prevent them.

“I think informing your students is the biggest thing, because then we feel more protected,” he said.. “But if we don’t know, then we’re kind of clueless and in the dark.”

According to Assistant Chief of Public Safety David Carlisle, students were not made aware of the details of the shooting because it occurred off campus, pushing the shooting just outside of DPS’ jurisdiction.

Although reporting the specifics of the crime to students falls outside DPS’ realm of responsibility, some students believe that they should have been better informed due to the proximity of the shooting to campus.

“I think if it’s where students are living or anywhere near the fryft zone, even a mile outside of the fryft zone radius, I think that all warrants for us to know because that’s a very close area that all these students are around,” Mcgowan said.

Fryft, or “free Lyft,” refers to a USC program offering students complimentary access to Lyft rides around several surrounding blocks near campus. The majority of undergraduate students live within this “fryft” zone.

“Students live in that area. They should have that right to know,” Chaudhry said.

Since DPS alerts are often broad, some students turn to alternative means of staying informed. Sophie Lee, a freshmen resident of Parkside Apartments, said that she found out about the shooting through a friend, who was alerted to the fatal incident by an app called Citizen, a crime reporting database run by civilian users.

“I have conflicting thoughts just because I know they don’t want to spread mass panic by saying ‘oh, there was a shooting,’” Lee said. “But at the same time if they don’t make it a big deal, then people aren’t going to take it seriously.”

This shooting wasn’t an isolated incident either in South Los Angeles.

“We have seen a marked increase in confrontational shootings where it started off as an argument of some sort, where a gun gets pulled out and somebody gets shot,” Lopez concluded.

Ending his statement to Annenberg Media, Lopez offered the following advice to students.

“Make smart decisions, be aware of your surroundings … try to avoid any confrontation,” Lopez said.