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Three UCLA students arrested after fight last month at fraternity party

Four non-students were arrested the day of the event, at which three students were injured.

October 03, 2009|Ann M. Simmons and My-Thuan Tran

Three UCLA students and four other people have been arrested in connection with a melee at an off-campus fraternity party that left three students injured last month, university officials said Friday.

The fight broke the morning of Sept. 22 at a party hosted by Lambda Phi Epsilon, a fraternity that was on probation at the time after an incident last fall that involved an altercation with members of another fraternity over "male and female relations," said Phil Hampton, a university spokesman

Isaiah Hee Cho, 19, of Westminster and Chris Yi, 19, of Huntington Beach were arrested Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder, Hampton said. Justin Kim, 19, of La Crescenta was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory. None of the students is listed as being a member of the fraternity.

The students were arrested by UCLA campus police but have been transferred to the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, according to the university. The melee occurred at an off-campus apartment complex on Midvale Avenue where some Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity members live, police said. One student was stabbed in the abdomen and required surgery. A second student was stabbed in the arm but did not require hospitalization. A third was hit over the head with a bottle.

The four non-students, who were arrested the day of the incident, were identified as Federico Fernandez, 22, of Huntington Beach; Phi Quoc Le, 20, of Huntington Beach; Dan Su Pham, 19, of Covina; and Don Thammavongsa, 19, of Westminster. Each is being held on $2-million bail, Hampton said.

Jeff Young, assistant chief of the UCLA Police Department, said a preliminary investigation indicates that all the suspects, including the students who were arrested, were "uninvited guests." He said the party eventually became overcrowded and, after some disruptions, the suspects were asked to leave.

Hampton said that for privacy reasons, the university could not reveal what, if any, action would be taken against specific students involved in the incident. But the university "takes a strong stand against behavior and actions that are detrimental to the institution," Hampton said.

"There are a range of options available to the university," he said, "and they are being looked at right now."

Of the UCLA students who were arrested, Cho is a third-year student majoring in pre-microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and Yi is a second-year student majoring in biology. Kim is a second-year student majoring in pre-business economics.

University officials were quick to allay fears about violent crime on or near the campus. "We think we have a very safe campus considering that the institution is located in a very dense urban environment. Incidents such as these are very rare," Hampton said.

There are 65 registered fraternities and sororities at UCLA and most face no sanctions.

On Lambda's Phi Epsilon's UCLA Alpha chapter website, the fraternity says it was established in 1981. Since then it has expanded across the country to become "the first and only nationally recognized Asian interest fraternity." It has 48 chapters, 13 of which are in California.

The Asian fraternity has faced problems in the past.

In 2005, 19-year-old Kenny Luong died from fatal head injuries during a tackle football game held at a city park in Irvine to initiate pledges into Lambda Phi Epsilon. During the game, pledges were gang-tackled repeatedly, police said. The fraternity was officially disbanded by UC Irvine in 2007.

In 2003, San Jose State Lambdas were involved in a melee that left one member fatally stabbed and others hospitalized. Police said about 60 fraternity brothers faced off against rivals from another Asian fraternity.

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ann.simmons@latimes.com

my-thuan.tran@latimes.com

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