Victor McElhaney, a USC music student, was fatally shot early Sunday morning near campus
A university student and the son of an Oakland City Council member was fatally shot in what appeared to be an attempted robbery near the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles shortly after midnight Sunday.
Police say Victor McElhaney, a USC music student, was approached just after midnight by three or four men in their 20s at the corner of Maple Avenue and Adams Boulevard in an off-campus area of Los Angeles. He was shot and the men, who were described as Hispanic, allegedly drove off, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Victor was taken to a nearby hospital where he died the following morning, according to USC Annenberg Media.
An LAPD spokesperson said the suspects are still at large and it was not clear if anything was taken during the alleged robbery attempt.
Calling her son’s death a “senseless act of violence,” councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said in a statement that her son was at USC to pursue his “lifelong love of music with some of the greats.”
“I miss my baby,” she said. “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.”
Gibson McElhaney said Victor was “a son of Oakland. He was a musician who drew his inspiration from the beat, soul, and sound of the town and he belonged in every nook and cranny of Oakland.”
According to Annenberg Media, Victor began his studies in jazz at USC’s Thornton School of Music in the fall of 2017. He had previously been a student at California State University East Bay. While at USC, he became a member of the school’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs.
“He believed in the power of music to touch lives, to heal, and to bring hope,” USC Interim President Wanda Austin said in a statement, the Associated Press reports. “Victor’s loss will affect all of the faculty and students who knew him.”
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Angela Wellman, the founder of the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, told KGO that Victor “represented our hope for our young people because he had it all.”
“If you have any question about how to be and move through your life as you grow into adulthood, pick up the phone and call Victor,” she said.
Professor Peter Erskine, who worked with Victor privately at the Thornton School of Music for two semesters, tells PEOPLE, “I was immediately struck by the maturity of his jazz drumming.”
Erskine continues, “His drumming had swagger, but he did not. Victor seemed quiet, dignified and somewhat shy. Victor made the world a better place, and he should have had much more time to continue doing so.”
The USC campus area is no stranger to tragedy. Last week, a judge sentenced Albert Ochoa, 22, to a life sentence in the death of 24-year-old Xinran Ji, who was fatally beaten and robbed while walking home, the Los Angeles Times reports. Xinran Ji was a USC graduate student from China.
Two years earlier, two Chinese graduate schools were killed after a failed robbery attempt near USC, the paper reports.