Officials at the University of Southern California say that overnight police were called to the Los Angeles campus to confront a knife brandishing assailant that has reported left one facility member dead. Police later said that a suspect has been arrested in the stabbing death of a psychology professor at the University on Friday.
According to a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department, there appears to have been only one suspect in the murderous attack, and the subject has been taken into custody. She added that the suspect was a male student at the University, but declined to give the suspects name. Officials said the suspect was being interviewed Friday night to establish details of the knife assault, and that his name would be released following his booking into the Los Angeles County Jail.
The USC President C. L. Max Nikias issued a statement to the press and in it identified the victim of the attack as Professor Bosco Tjan. Officials also said that Tjan was pronounced dead at the scene of the knife attack. The professor had joined the USC facility in 2001 and according to the President’s office, Tjan, taught in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and served as co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center. President Nikias closed his statement by saying that, “As the Trojan family mourns Professor Tjan’s untimely passing, we will keep his family in our thoughts.”
In a brief statement issued by the LAPD, a spokesperson said “The USC campus is secure, we have one suspect in custody and there are no other outstanding suspects in the assault of Professor Tjan” Tjan was found dead with several stab wounds around 4:30 p.m. inside the Seeley G. Mudd building, which houses the school’s psychology department, Los Angeles police spokeswoman Detective Meghan Aguilar said.
According to the USC Department of Public Safety, the attack is believed to be the “result of a personal dispute,” and does not appear to be a random attack.
The university’s Trojans Alert emergency texting service quickly put out a message urging students, faculty and employees to stay away from the area that the attack occurred. The emergency text read; “Police-related incident in progress at Seely G. Mudd. No danger to USC or the community. Stay away from the area.”
A fellow staff member and project manager at Tjan’s lab, Chris Purington, said he never heard of anyone having a problem with the 50 year old married professor who was also the father of one son, and had no idea who would have wanted him dead. “He was somebody who really cared about people. I know he cared about me,” Purington said through tears. “He mentored people and he looked out for them. He spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a mentor and guide people.”
He said the professor gave him a job both after he graduated from USC and after graduate school at the University of California-Berkeley. “People talk about scientists as very cold or robotic. Bosco is a guy that he could talk to anybody about anything,” he said. “He couldn’t move through a room without being sidetracked in all these conversations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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