Oakland City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney said Tuesday that she has dedicated her life to ending gun violence such as the fatal shooting of her 21-year-old son Victor in Los Angeles early Sunday morning.
Speaking at a news conference at the University of Southern California, where Victor McElhaney was a senior in its Thornton School of Music, Gibson McElhaney said gun violence that claims the lives of young black man such as her son is "an epidemic that America can cure."
She said that in Oakland, young black men are 63 times more likely to die from gun violence that are young white men.
"Victor's not a homicide number or statistic, or just another black boy gunned down in South Central Los Angeles. I want you all to know that Victor came into the world a drummer. He was drumming from the moment he could sit up," Gibson McElhaney said.
Victor McElhaney's death is the second tragedy that Gibson McElhaney has had to endure in recent years.
On Dec. 20, 2015, 17-year-old Torian Hughes, who she considered to be her grandson, was fatally shot in the 900 block of Mandela Parkway in West Oakland.
Over the last several weeks, Gibson McElhaney attended the trial of Shiheim Johnson, who is charged with murder for his alleged role in Torian's death. Johnson was 19 at the time of the shooting and is now 22.
Alameda County prosecutors allege that Johnson directed a 15-year-old boy to shoot Hughes during a robbery.
The attorneys in Johnson's trial presented their closing arguments on Monday and jurors began deliberating on Tuesday morning.
Los Angeles police Capt. Billy Hayes said at the news conference Tuesday that Victor McElhaney was shot in an apparent botched robbery at a convenience store at Maple Avenue and Adams Boulevard, about a mile from the USC campus at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. He died at about 11 a.m. that day.
Hayes said McElhaney was with a group of friends in the store's parking lot when they were confronted by three or four Hispanic men in their 20s, two of whom were armed.
Hayes said one of the suspects shot McElhaney in what he described as "a cowardly act" and the suspects fled in a newer model dark blue or gray sedan.
McElhaney's father Clarence McElhaney tearfully asked anyone with information about the shooting to come forward, saying, "Silence is worse than the bullet that killed my son."
McElhaney said he even wants the people who were involved in the attempted robbery and shooting to come forward.
"Be a man and step forward and accept responsibility for your actions," he said.
Gibson McElhaney said, "I don't know if the person who put a bullet in my baby intended to do it, but they can come forward."
She said, "Come forward and heal. You don't have to rob or shoot or live that life anymore."
She said, "We want to heal and Victor will be our guide."