Victor McElhaney was studying music at USC, but his mother said his heart was in his hometown of Oakland.
“Victor was a son of Oakland,” Oakland Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said in a statement. “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.”
Victor McElhaney, 21, was shot and killed in an apparent robbery attempt about a mile from USC early Sunday. The shooting stunned the campus and brought an outpouring of mourning and love for the young man.
“I miss my baby,” his mother said. “Please keep me, my family, and all of my son’s friends in your thoughts and prayers.”
McElhaney transferred to USC from Cal State East Bay in the fall of 2017, according to USC Annenberg Media. The jazz-studies major was an active member of USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs.
Previously, McElhaney was an instructor at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music.
He was an extraordinarily talented drummer, said USC jazz professor Peter Erskine, who gave the young man private lessons for a year.
“He was a bright light,” Erskine said, describing McElhaney as quiet and dignified. “He was someone I was expecting to hear a lot of music from in the future. I’m so sad that his voice has been silenced.”
Others described a talented young man whose life was cut short.
“He enjoyed mentoring young musicians and had a long-standing commitment to community service,” USC music school dean Robert Cutietta said in a statement.
USC interim President Wanda Austin wrote in a letter to students and faculty that McElhaney “believed in the power of music to touch lives, to heal, and to bring hope.”
“Victor’s loss will affect all of the faculty and students who knew him,” she said.
Oakland Councilman Larry Reid told the East Bay Times that McElhaney wanted to share his musical talents with others.
“He didn’t think about himself; he thought about others. He was just an all-around great young man,” Reid said. “He was a very talented musician and he didn’t mind sharing that talent he had with other young people.”
Los Angeles police are still investigating the shooting. Three or four men in their 20s approached McElhaney at Maple Avenue and Adams Boulevard shortly after midnight in what appeared to be a robbery attempt, LAPD Officer Mike Lopez said.
It was not clear whether anything was taken from McElhaney. No arrests have been made.