A 23-year-old alleged gang member has been charged with murder in the March shooting death of a USC student, the son of an Oakland city official.
Ivan Hernandez appeared in court late Tuesday afternoon, but did not enter a plea. He's accused of one count of murder with the special circumstance allegations that it was committed during the course of an attempted robbery and while he is an active participant in a criminal street gang, prosecutors said. Hernandez also faces a count of attempted robbery.
He could face the death penalty, but a decision on whether prosecutors will seek that will be made later, officials said.
Hernandez is accused of shooting Victor McElhaney, 21, on March 10 about a mile from the USC campus while trying to rob the victim and a group of his friends, prosecutors said.
McElhaney, the son of Oakland City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, was a student at USC's Thornton School of Music. He was part of the USC jazz studies program with an interest in the relationship between music and social and political movements. He also mentored young musicians and taught at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music.
Lynette McElhaney, long an activist against gun violence, had come to Los Angeles after her son's death, appealing to the public for information to help investigators solve the case. After nearly four months of detective work by LAPD's Robbery Homicide Division, Hernandez was arrested Friday. Police did not disclose how they identified him, nor what evidence links him to the killing.
Tuesday afternoon, after being notified of the charges against Hernandez, Lynette McElhaney said her primary concern has been insuring that someone "with no regard for life" be taken off the street before he could take another life. She said vengence is not a factor, and lamented the reality that lacking opportunties, some disadvantaged youth turn to violent crime, calling it "the most profound failure of our nation."
Shortly after the killing, Lynette McElhaney said her son "believed that music could heal the world of violence and sickness and addiction."
The councilwoman and her family recently accepted their son's college diploma during USC commencement ceremonies.
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Early on in the investigation, police said the shooter was among a group of three or four attempted robbers who fled in a car. No other arrests have been made.