New details emerge after USC student arrested in fatal stabbing of homeless man

Los Angeles, CA - June 18: A 19-year-old USC student was in custody today for allegedly fatally stabbing a man he apparently witnessed breaking into cars near Delta Tau Delta on the university's Greek Row Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Delta Tau Delta on USC's Greek Row, where there was a fatal stabbing June 17. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A USC student was arrested on suspicion of murder after police said he stabbed a man Monday night on Greek Row.

Ivan Gallegos, 19, is being held on bail of $2 million after Los Angeles police say he and two others confronted a homeless man breaking into a car, and Gallegos pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed him.

Gallegos told officers the man said he was armed with a gun, according to interim LAPD Chief Dominic Choi. But a law enforcement source told The Times no gun was recovered at the scene. The district attorney has not brought charges against Gallegos.

The confrontation occurred in the 700 block of West 28th Street, said LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman. Police said Gallegos remained at the scene after the stabbing, cooperated with police and was later booked. The two men with him were questioned and released.

"He's a good kid," Gallegos' mother, Violet, said when reached by phone Tuesday morning.

The victim — who was 27, police said Tuesday evening, after initially describing him as a homeless man in his 30s — has not been identified by the county medical examiner pending notification of his next of kin.

Choi told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday that the victim had been breaking into vehicles in the area when he was confronted by Gallegos off-campus.

Police found the victim in an alley, suffering from stab wounds, Choi said. Paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene.

According to a recent report from USC Annenberg Media, Gallegos performed with Mariachi Los Troyanos at the school and makes electronic dance music under the stage name IDG. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2022, according to his Instagram profile, and studies at the USC Marshall School of Business.

"Throughout his childhood, Ivan navigated the realities of both his parents’ involvement in gang activities, leading to their intermittent incarceration," the report said. "Despite growing up in an environment saturated with drugs, gangs and prostitution, he focused on music and sharpened his skills to become a multifaceted instrument and vocalist."

Hours after homicide investigators cleared the crime scene, a trail of blood dried in an alleyway behind a row of USC fraternity buildings. The trail started near the Delta Tau Delta house and made its way around broken beer bottles, discarded Zyn nicotine containers and painted wood from themed fraternity parties.

The stabbing had residents on edge, but some said it was not necessarily a surprise.

Members of the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau said their house manager was stabbed by a homeless person last year in the same alley. The man was trying to steal a bike and stabbed the manager when confronted, said fraternity member Scott Conner.

“The guys back there are pretty aggressive. A lot of homeless live there. There’s been this whole school year serial break-ins, cars and houses,” said Conner. “It’s expected.”

Rocio Zenteno cleans houses on frat row. She said someone broke a car window to steal things just last week.

“I got there, they said a homeless guy stole stuff from the car," Zenteno said. "Sometimes I leave my car open. I don’t know, so it’s easy to get something quick. Now I lock it.”

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She said she often sees people living in the alley and they sometimes help her take out the trash. But she has also seen people looking into parked vehicles.

Adam Pierpoint has slept in the alley for the last few months and keeps to himself. He said he is not surprised that someone breaking into a car was confronted.

Pierpoint described the area as safe and said USC students don’t usually give him any trouble.

“I’m homeless, but I’m not a pest,” he said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.