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USC on-campus shooting appears to be first in two decades

November 1, 2012 |  4:00 pm

The Halloween night shooting at USC that left four people wounded appeared to be the university's first on-campus shooting in two decades.

University officials could not recall the last time a person was shot on campus, but a search of The Times' archives showed that the last such incident occurred in September 1992, when a freshman football player was stuck by a stray bullet from a nearby gang shootout.

The Times reported then that Jon McGee was hit in the arm at Howard Jones Field, near the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, where the shooting occurred. 

PHOTOS: Shooting at USC Halloween party

Students had mixed reactions to that incident. "It's just L.A.," then-senior Ashley Burns told The Times. "You can't just pick up the university and move it to another neighborhood."

Others were more alarmed, recalling the Los Angeles riots earlier that year that surrounded campus.

"You'd think that after the riots something would've been done around here," said then-junior Jeff McCollum. "But the next thing you know, someone's going to get gunned down in front of Tommy Trojan."

Wednesday's shooting occurred outside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, located in the center of campus. A party hosted by the university's Black Student Assembly was being held inside the building and about 100 people had gathered outside.

Two men waiting outside began arguing, Los Angeles police said, when one shot the other about 11:45 p.m. The victim, identified as Geno Hall, a former Crenshaw High School football star, was shot several times, authorities said. Three others were also wounded.

None of those involved in the shooting — either the two detained suspects or the four injured — attend USC, authorities said.

University President C.L. Max Nikias called the shooting a "disturbing incident" and said it has prompted administrators to assess and review visitor and event policies.

“Although this incident did not involve USC students and was resolved quickly, it strikes at the heart of the Trojan Family," Nikias said. "I understand the apprehensions and concerns of our campus community as we move forward. All of us have been shaken by serious incidents this year. Despite these events, or indeed because of them, we must continue to support each other as members of the Trojan Family."

Assistant Chief John Thomas of the USC Department of Public Safety said at a news briefing Thursday morning that the shooting was "totally an isolated incident."

But some students raised concerns about the university's "open campus" policy, questioning whether non-USC students should be allowed at on-campus parties.

"It just makes me a little suspicious as to why there were so many people who were not students on campus," said Kelly Reinke, 18, a freshman studying broadcast journalism. "It makes me a little bit uncomfortable."

Although this is the first on-campus incident in many years, there have been several high-profile incidents near campus.

In April, two graduate students were shot to death in what authorities described as a botched robbery. They were sitting in a car off campus.

On Sept. 4, 2011, two USC students were shot and wounded at an off-campus apartment building in the 1200 block of West 37th Place in a dispute over headphones. Tyson Tyree Smith, 22, of Signal Hill was sentenced last week to 25 years to life after pleading no contest to one count of attempted murder.

On Halloween 2008, USC track star Bryshon Nellum was shot in the legs outside a club near campus.  Police later arrested two gang members who they believe mistook Nellum for a rival. In August 2011, the two pleaded no contest to one count each of attempted murder and were sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

Nellum recovered and won silver and bronze medals at the 2012 Olympics.


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USC shooting: Halloween party billed as safe with 'no worries'

USC shooting: Campus visitor policies under review, president says

-- Kate Mather, Andrew Blankstein and Ari Bloomekatz