On the evening of November 20, just two days before Thanksgiving, UVA students Guan Yu Lu and Baichan Shu waited in Tysons Corner for another Chinese national who had been called by an associate and asked to help out with car trouble, according to Fairfax Police Officer Don Gotthardt. Instead of finding a friend to rescue, though, the man soon needed saving himself, as Lu and Shu allegedly abducted him at knife point, put him in their vehicle and drove him to the Stratford Motor Lodge in Falls Church.
A portrait of Guan Yu Lu on his Facebook page, which lists his favorite activities as playing the computer game Final Fantasy, sleeping, smoking, and downloading "pirate stuff."
Sometime shortly thereafter, one of the kidnappers called the victim’s host family and demanded $500,000. In no time, the police and the FBI were trying to locate the suspects and their victim, and by November 22, Thanksgiving Day, had tracked them down. When authorities entered the motel room, they encountered no resistance from the suspects and found the victim bound and gagged with duct tape in the bathtub, The Washington Post reported last week.
In a matter of days, the two sophomore engineering students had gone from simple college kids to criminal suspects charged with abduction with the intent to extort money. The 19-year-olds could, if convicted, serve between 20 years to life in prison, and pay a $100,000 fine.
Fellow students reacted with amazement. "I was shocked when I heard of the news," says one of Lu’s friends from his UVA Facebook page, who asked to remain anonymous. "I thought it was a joke at the beginning, but then I realized it’s for real."
According to their Facebook friend, both Lu and Shu attended parties at her apartment several times. While they might have seemed a "little immature," a charge such as they are currently under is bewildering, she says.
At the Stratford Motor Lodge in Falls Church, Guan Yu Lu and Baichan Shu allegedly held another Chinese national hostage, keeping him bound and gagged with duct tape in the bathtub.
"I thought they are just some kids that wanted to act cool," the friend says. "I never expected they would have done something like this."
Indeed, Lu’s Facebook profile shows a kid with somewhat normal interests. For instance, his favorite activities listed are playing the computer game Final Fantasy, sleeping, smoking, and downloading "pirate stuff." Favorite music includes the Dixie Chicks and Green Day. Interestingly enough, the TV show "Prison Break" and the Burt Reynolds’ jailhouse movie, The Longest Yard, are amongst his favorite viewing items.
Lu and Shu are scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on February 8.
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