Suspected gang member charged with killing USC student

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A suspected gang member was charged Tuesday with killing a University of Southern California music student during an off-campus robbery attempt earlier this year, prosecutors said.

Ivan Hernandez, 23, faces one count of murder during an attempted robbery while an active participant in a criminal street gang, said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. An attorney for Hernandez could not be located. His arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors accuse him of fatally shooting 21-year-old Victor McElhaney on March 10 while the student left a market with friends about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from USC’s campus.

Hernandez was arrested on June 28 and was held on $2 million bail, according to jail records. If convicted, he could face either life in prison without possibility of parole or the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek capital punishment.

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McElhaney was in critical condition when he arrived at a hospital, where he died.

He’s the son of Oakland City Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney.

In a statement Tuesday, she thanked the public and Los Angeles police but said the arrest “brings little comfort.”

“The young man arrested also represents a loss of life and human potential,” she said. “Victor’s death calls our state to examine the foundations of our society: our investments in youth, the lack of opportunities for poor and low income families and communities, and our protection of the gun lobby at the expense of our children.”

“Thousands of families experience the life-transforming pain of having babies stolen away by gunmen in our schools, theaters, entertainment venues and even at corner stores. This must end,” she said.

During an emotional press conference days after the killing, the victim’s mother described her son’s life, from a high-risk pregnancy through an early talent for drumming to his start of classes at USC.

“He was drumming from the moment he could sit up,” she said at the time.

Victor McElhaney transferred to USC in 2017 to study jazz at the Thornton School of Music. 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.

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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This story has been corrected to show the suspect is 23 years old.

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