A student who was the son of an Oakland, California, city councilwoman was shot and killed in what might have been a robbery attempt near the University of Southern California campus, officials said.
Victor McElhaney, who was studying at USC’s Thornton School of Music, was killed shortly after midnight Sunday about a mile from the campus, USC Annenberg Media reported.
McElhaney, 21, is the son of Oakland Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Zachary Wald, the councilwoman’s chief of staff, told the Los Angeles Times.
On Sunday night, the councilwoman posted a statement mourning her son’s death.
“I miss my baby. Please keep me, my family, and all of my son’s friends in your thoughts and prayers,” she wrote. “We are beginning a new chapter in this reoccurring circle of violence … And it will take all of us together to make it through this tragedy.”
Three or four men approached the victim at the corner of Maple Avenue and Adams Boulevard in what might have been a robbery attempt and one shot him, LAPD Officer Mike Lopez told Annenberg Media. The men fled in a vehicle, police said.
McElhaney was in critical condition when he was taken to a hospital, where he died, police said. He was pronounced dead at 11 a.m. Sunday, Annenberg Media said.
No arrests had been made in connection with the shooting as of Sunday afternoon.
USC Interim president Wanda Austin sent a letter to students and faculty in which she praised the police investigation. “We appreciate the ongoing and diligent efforts of the Los Angeles Police Department to quickly identify and arrest those responsible for this senseless crime,” Austin said.
The school, which is on spring break, has been in touch with McElhaney’s family, she said.
McElhaney is from Oakland, where he was an instructor at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, the university said. In the fall of 2017, he transferred from California State University East Bay to USC to pursue Jazz Studies. He was an active member of USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs.
“He believed in the power of music to touch lives, to heal, and to bring hope,” Austin said in her statement. “Victor’s loss will affect all of the faculty and students who knew him.”
The East Bay Times reported that McElhaney’s family had previously suffered through the killing of Torian Hughes, 17, on Dec. 20, 2015. Hughes was lured to an Oakland street by two suspects under the ruse of buying a gun.
“It’s been difficult, but we are grateful that there is some certainty around the next steps in the process,” said McElhaney, who helped raise Hughes and considered him to be her grandson, said after Hughes’ death. “There are too many families that don’t get that when they’re grieving.”
The USC community has previously been hit by violent crime. On July 24, 2014, 24-year-old student Xinran Ji was killed after he was attacked by a group of four people as he walked home from a study group near the campus. He made it back to his apartment and died before he was found by a roommate.
The attackers were convicted of the killing and sent to prison.