On March 10, 2019, University of Southern California (USC) student Victor McElhaney, was fatally shot early in the morning. McElhaney was a student of Thornton School’s Jazz Studies program and the son of an Oakland city councilwoman. The victim was killed in an apparent robbery attempt approximately a mile away from the USC campus.
Oakland Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney confirmed on Sunday night that the 21-year-old is indeed her son, and in an interview conducted by the Los Angeles Times, she said, “I miss my baby. Please keep me, my family, and all of my son’s friends in your thoughts and prayers.” In the same interview, she stated that, “we are beginning a new chapter in this recurring circle of violence…and it will take all of us together to make it through this tragedy.”
According to Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department, around midnight that Sunday, three or four men in their twenties approached McElhaney and allegedly attempted to rob him. The victim was shot and the suspects ran away in a vehicle. Victor McElhaney was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 11 A.M. on Sunday, according to Annenberg Media. It is still uncertain if anything was stolen from the victim during the robbery and no arrests related to the shooting have been made yet.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the victim transferred to USC from Cal State East Bay in the fall semester of 2017. He was an active member of USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and was a teacher at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music prior to moving to Los Angeles. McElhaney was well known among his peers for being an extraordinarily talented and dedicated drummer. Professors and friends of Victor described him as a quiet and dignified musician and student.
Security has always been an issue at USC because it is located in an area south of downtown Los Angeles that has been full of crime in the past. Although crime rates have dropped and the neighborhoods around the university have gentrified, many students and parents remain worried. In the six-month period ending Jan. 20, 93 violent crimes were recorded in University Park, giving the neighborhood a higher rate of violent crime than in downtown Los Angeles during the same time period. And, there have also been numerous incidents in recent years that have caused more discussion regarding the safety of USC students.
Safety at the University of Southern California has always been a concern for many parents and students, but this incident has increased such worries.
Nicole Kim, Grade 10
South Pasadena High School