(LOS ANGELES) — A 21-year-old student at the University of Southern California was shot dead near the Los Angeles campus this weekend, the university said, leaving his mother, an Oakland councilwoman, heartbroken.
Victor McElhaney was a senior at USC’s Thornton School of Music “where he was pursuing his lifelong love of music with some of the greats,” his mother, Oakland Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, wrote in a statement Sunday.
Councilwoman McElhaney called her son’s death a “senseless act of violence.”
The Los Angeles Police Department said a 21-year-old man was shot during a robbery shortly after midnight Sunday. The gunman and two or three other suspects fled the scene, which was east of campus, by Adams Boulevard and Maple Avenue, police said.
The victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Police did not release the victim’s name or confirm that he died.
“Victor was a son of Oakland,” his mother said. “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.”
“I miss my baby,” she said. “Please keep me, my family, and all of my son’s friends in your thoughts and prayers.”
Victor McElhaney was a jazz studies student who “believed in the power of music to touch lives, to heal, and to bring hope,” Robert Cutietta, Dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, said in a statement Sunday. “We honor Victor’s life and send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends in this time of grief and tragedy.”
USC Thornton faculty member Peter Erskine, who taught the 21-year-old privately for a year, said in a statement, “I just saw Victor a week or two ago walking across campus. His smile, even on that sunny day, lit up the whole place.”
“I had the pleasure of getting to speak with his mother Lynette at a student orientation meeting,” Erskine said. “I asked, ‘What does Victor want?’ She replied, ‘He wants to change the world.’ And that’s what he was doing with his music, trying to change the world. He made it a better place.”
“Victor was already playing at a professional level when he came to USC,” Erskine said. “Speaking on behalf of the entire USC community, we are devastated by this loss, and we extend heartfelt and heartbroken condolences to all of his family, friends and colleagues.”
University officials added, “We appreciate the diligent and ongoing efforts of the Los Angeles Police Department to quickly identify and arrest those responsible for this senseless crime and extend our greatest sympathies to Victor’s family and friends.”
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