Police seek information in off-campus killing of USC student

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The emotionally shaken family of a University of Southern California student killed during an off-campus robbery attempt asked Tuesday that anyone with information about possible suspects call Los Angeles police investigators.

Music student Victor McElhaney, 21, was shot early Sunday after leaving a market with friends.

Detectives were searching for three or four male suspects who fled in a newer model, dark sedan, police Capt. Billy Hayes said.

The victim’s mother, Oakland City Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney, described her son’s life from a high-risk pregnancy through an early talent for drumming to his start of classes at USC.

“Victor’s not a homicide number or statistic, or just another black boy gunned down in South Central Los Angeles,” she said. “I want you all to know that Victor came into the world a drummer. He was drumming from the moment he could sit up.”

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Her son was an inquisitive young man who believed music could heal the world, she said.

Police say the group of students was confronted shortly after midnight at the market about a mile from campus. McElhaney was shot as the assailants rifled through the victims’ pockets, Hayes said.

McElhaney was in critical condition when he was rushed to a hospital and later died.

“We’re looking at this as a robbery attempt that went bad,” Hayes said.

McElhaney transferred to USC in 2017 to study jazz at the Thornton School of Music. Friends said he was a member of USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and mentored young musicians. He also taught at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music.

Victor’s father, Clarence McElhaney, tearfully urged anyone with information to speak up. “Silence is worse than the bullet that killed my son,” he said.

The family had previously suffered through the killing of 17-year-old Torian Hughes, who Lynette McElhaney helped raise and described as her grandson. Hughes was shot on an Oakland street in what prosecutors described as robbery attempt. Trial for a suspect, Shiheim Johnson, is currently underway in an Alameda County court.

In 2014, 24-year-old USC student Xinran Ji died after an attack by four people as he walked home from a study group near campus. He made it back to his apartment and died before he was found by a roommate.

The attackers were convicted and sent to prison.

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