26 October 2016
Flowers are placed in a roadside memorial to Jiang Yue in Tempe, Arizona. Holly Davis (inset) has been charged with first-degree murder in Jiang's death. Photos: ABC
Flowers are placed in a roadside memorial to Jiang Yue in Tempe, Arizona. Holly Davis (inset) has been charged with first-degree murder in Jiang's death. Photos: ABC

Drugs linked to road-rage shooting of Chinese student in US

A deadly Arizona road-rage shooting left a Chinese international student dead, prompting outrage on the Chinese internet.

Shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday, police say, Jiang Yue, 19, an Arizona State University student from China, and her 21-year-old boyfriend were stopped at a red light in a Mercedes driven by Jiang when Holly Davis, 32, rear-ended them, WALB-TV reported.

The unidentified boyfriend got out to inspect the damage but quickly returned to the vehicle after realizing Davis had a gun, city of Tempe police officer Naomi Galbraith said.

Davis got out of her Volkswagen Passat, walked to the driver’s side of the Mercedes and opened fire, Galbraith said.

Badly wounded, Jiang tried to flee by making a U-turn but crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with another car, Galbraith said.

Five people from a Chevrolet sedan were taken to hospital, including a pregnant woman and three children, Sgt. Raj Johnson said. Their injuries are believed to be minor.

Jiang, a sophomore majoring in finance, was taken to hospital, where she later died.

The Arizona Republic newspaper said Jiang’s boyfriend, also a second-year student, was also wounded.

Davis fled the scene but was later taken into custody.

She reportedly hid her car and weapon before returning to her apartment, where she showered and washed her clothes, the newspaper said.

Police said that when they found Davis, she denied involvement and admitted to using oxycodone, a controlled drug similar to morphine that can be used as a pain-killer but is often abused by addicts.

Davis has since been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon and possessing a prohibited substance.

Court paperwork suggests addiction and mental illness on the part of the defendant, saying Davis “expressed a desire to be shot by law enforcement”, the Shanghaiist website reported.

Meanwhile, Davis’s boyfriend confessed to being intoxicated together with her earlier that day, and Davis herself admitted using oxycodone, though it is unclear whether she was impaired during the attack.

A note was found in the apartment that was purportedly “consistent with defendant planning to engage in violence”.

An official from the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles said it will be closely watching the investigation and follow-up issues, People’s Daily reported.

The consulate also urged the police to protect the legal rights of Chinese citizens in the United States.

Mainland Chinese on the Weibo social network were quick to express grief and disbelief over the tragedy.

The online conversations also included comments on what Chinese think of guns, US gun control laws and the late US president Ronald Reagan.

“US gun control laws are contemptible. Everyone has a gun, and if you’re in a bad mood, you use it,” one internet user said.

“You can get one at any gun show,” said another.

Someone else took a pro-gun stance, slightly mangling the US National Rifle Association’s slogan (while mistakenly attributing it to Reagan) by saying “guns do not kill people, people kill. Truth”.

One even took America’s War on Drugs to another level, declaring: “[Chinese] students in the US must be licensed to carry guns as a necessary means of defense; after all, much of the North American streets are filled with madmen on drugs.”

Others, noting that Jiang was driving a Mercedes, expressed their hatred of wealthy Chinese families who can afford to send their children abroad to study.

“Our Chinese compatriot was brutally and unjustly killed, but she was from a family of wealth that was likely corrupt. The parents deserve what they got,” one said.

“I am not totally cold-blooded; our sister is dead,” said another. “Still, if you do not stay in your own country, you should die.”

Chinese students are by far the most visible international presence at many universities across the United States, with more than 300,000 now studying in the country, figures from Foreign Policy magazine show.

Jiang’s tragic death raises safety worries among them all and their relatives back home, adding to a list of at least seven other students from China killed in the US in four years.

Last year, a Chinese student (name withheld because of her age) from North Seattle College was killed in a bus accident.

In 2014, Shao Tong, a third-year student at Iowa State University, was found stuffed in the trunk of her car; and Ji Xinran, an engineering graduate student at the University of Southern California, was beaten to death with a bat near campus in an attempted robbery.

Chen Ying and Liu Hao, two University of Miami doctoral students, were run down by a reckless driver in her Porsche in 2013.

Qu Ming and Wu Ying, also engineering graduate students, were gunned down while parked outside a house near USC in 2012.

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