OAKLAND (KPIX) — Despite the heartbreak he may have brought her, Oakland City Council member Lynette Gibson McElhaney on Tuesday said she feels sympathy for her son’s suspected killer.
“I didn’t think that this day would come,” McElhaney told KPIX 5 reporter Christin Ayers Tuesday evening.
She explained that she never really expected justice for her son, Victor McElhaney.
“I absolutely thought that Victor’s case would be unsolved, because most of our cases of black boys dead are unsolved,” said McElhaney.
Victor was a student studying music at USC. A talented drummer, McElhaney was described by friends and family as a bright light. He was suddenly snuffed out last March during spring break when he was shot dead at a convenience store across from campus, an innocent bystander caught in an eruption of gang violence.
“Victor is not just a homicide statistic,” said McElhaney. “He was America’s promise. He was our hope. And I still can’t fathom that such a beautiful light and healer has been taken from us.”
On Tuesday, McElhaney received news that she thought she would never hear: 23-year-old Ivan Hernandez — a suspected gang member — was arrested by Los Angeles Police. Authorities said they believe Hernandez was one of three suspects in the shooting.
McElhaney says the tip that led to the Hernandez arrest came after a rally and canvassing in Los Angeles on Mother’s Day weekend. She and others spent hours spreading the word about Victor’s death, pleading for information leading to an arrest.
Now, even in her grief, she looks at victor’s suspected killer and still sees the bigger picture.
“They tell me he’s 23. He should’ve been in college. He should’ve been believed in and invested in,” said McElhaney. “In failing that young man and that community, we failed my young man and our community.”
If convicted, Hernandez could face either life in prison without possibility of parole or the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek capital punishment.