Students, faculty and staff at the University of Southern California (USC) gathered Tuesday to honor the slain Oakland City Councilwoman’s son who was a student there.
More than 700 people crowded into a ballroom on USC’s University Park to celebrate 21-year-old Victor McElhaney who was killed in a botched attempted robbery on March 10, USC News reported, calling the full house “a testament … to the lives he touched during his time at the university.”
Dozens at the memorial service spoke warmly about McElhaney, who usually went by the name Vic to those who knew him personally.
“I’m Vic’s academic adviser. Vic is my student. And I like to say is because to say past tense implies that person is truly gone and Vic is not truly gone,” said Viet Bui, who works in student affairs at the USC Thornton School of Music. “I know Vic lives in each one of our hearts and in our souls.”
The Los Angeles police continued to investigate the fatal shooting of Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney’s son who was a senior at the university studying music.
McElhaney was with his friends at a strip mall parking lot at around 12:30 a.m. when at least three Hispanic men in their 20s confronted them, according to investigators. In the process of trying to rob McElhaney and his friends, one of the suspects shot McElhaney. They then fled in a dark blue or gray sedan. There were witnesses at the scene, and investigators have surveillance video of the shooting. McElhaney was transported to a hospital, where he died of his injuries later that day.
The councilwoman and her husband, Clarence McElhaney, appeared at the campus two days after their son’s death to plead for help in finding the killers.
“Silence is worse than the actual bullet that killed my son,” Clarence McElhaney said. “Even the people involved. Be a man, step forward and take responsibility for your actions.”
The councilwoman recalled that her son was a gun control advocate who supported her efforts to develop Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention. At USC, he was a drummer pursuing his passion for music. The Jazz Studies major was also a mentor to young musicians in Oakland.
“Victor’s not a homicide number or a statistic or just another Black boy gunned down in South Central Los Angeles,” she said at USC. “Victor came here because he wanted to be in the pantheon of all these great jazz traditions that have been held and thrust at USC.”
Councilwoman McElhaney is serving a second term as a representative of Oakland’s district three, which includes West Oakland, Downtown/Uptown, Jack London, Pill Hill/KONO, the Lake, and the Port of Oakland. She has been a leader for two decades in the struggle for affordable housing in the gentrifying city.