Student fear at USC hits off-campus housing in wake of killing

Victor McElhaney was just 21 -- a music student at USC. On March 10, 2019, he was shot and killed when a group of men attempted to mug him and some friends.

The shooting was upsetting to a lot of students who go to USC especially because it happened not that far away from campus. It was a little too close to home according to some students. But, what set off a new round of anxiety was about personal safety.

A student who lives on Orchard Street recently asked their off-campus leasing company, Mosaic Student Communities, to reinstall security bars removed during a recent remodel back on her windows. It was all about safety.

Mosiac posted a response that some students didn't like. They called the words cold and insensitive. Those words from an official of the leasing company were: "We never imply or promise the safety of our residents. We are removing security bars from all houses that we manage, per the request of the owners.

And those words went all over this area especially in homes leased by Mosaic. In one house, seven USC music students were not happy. They want improvements too. They say "bars would be nice," but an automatic locking door and a fence would be good. The fence they had was removed during a recent remodel there.

Fox 11 paid a visit to Mosaic. We were told someone would call. Fox 11 never got a call, but by 2:30 p.m. Friday we received an email response from the company's leasing and marketing manager boasting of being a leading provider of off-campus housing with an eye toward customer service. They also wrote this:

"Part of the scope of this project included removing dated security window bars and installing a RING Doorbell and floodlight camera system. They also added that Mosaic will be reinstalling the window bars.

Fox 11 wanted to know if the students did the right thing by raising safety concerns. David Carlisle, the Asst. Chief of the USC Public Safety Department said, "Students are our campus safety partners. We ask them to do their part and part of that is making smart choices."

Mosaic additionally released the following statement:

"Mosaic Student Communities recently renovated the exterior of a 1921 Craftsman home located at 2647 Orchard Avenue near USC. In addition to repainting the property with historic paint colors, Mosaic revamped the front and backyard landscaping and added popular amenities including a BBQ grill, a fire pit and outdoor seating."

"Part of the scope of this project included removing dated security window bars and installing a Ring Doorbell and Floodlight camera system. Mosaic also added security fencing with a remote control gate and a pedestrian access door. More recently, and in response to our residents' concerns, Mosaic will be re-installing the window bars."

"Mosaic is a leading provider of off-campus student housing at USC, and continually strives to improve the customer service level it provides to its residents. In the past 10 years, Mosaic has invested over $6 million renovating and refurbishing its collection of historic Craftsman and Victorian properties near USC."