Slain Venice youth pastor lauded by friends, family
A 23-year-old youth pastor fatally shot in front of his girlfriend outside his mother's Venice home was an “exceptional young man” who had once been named "Youth of the Year" by the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, the director said Wednesday.
Oscar Duncan attended Venice schools, served as captain of the Venice High School football team and was a youth pastor at his Compton church, friends and family said. He was shot Monday night by attackers who jeered at his girlfriend while the couple stood outside his mother's home in the Oakwood neighborhood. The pair had just returned from Bible study.
Authorities say Duncan was not in a gang and had no criminal record. They believe the assailants may have been gang members.
“I grew up in Inglewood. I’ve seen a lot in my lifetime,” said Erikk Aldridge, the club director. “I’ve seen friends murdered, incarcerated, but this was different because this young man had both feet firmly planted in goodness and great things.”
Duncan was honored by the Boys & Girls Club in 2006, the same year Aldridge arrived. The organization hired Duncan as a summer counselor, and he did such a good job that they hired him as a part-time staff member, Aldridge said.
Duncan was a youth pastor at Greater Zion Church in Compton.
Detectives were trying to determine why the attackers chose Duncan as their target. Minutes before he was shot, Duncan tweeted a passage from the Old Testament.
His friends called him “choir boy” because he loved music, particularly gospel, and he used that love to help initiate an audio engineering program at the club. Under Duncan’s leadership, the program would eventually evolve into a full-blown music studio.
Last Friday, Aldridge said the staff had decided to hire Duncan full time.
“He didn’t hear it from me," the director said, "but he had an idea that his time was coming.”
According to Aldridge, one of the new hire’s first tasks as a teen services coordinator would have been to start a gang prevention program.