University fraternity student set free after killing homeless man along the school’s Greek Row

Sunday, June 23, 2024 - The University of Southern California (USC) student who killed a homeless man during a confrontation over a burglary along the school’s Greek Row won’t be charged over the fatal stabbing, authorities have confirmed.

Ivan Gallegos, 19, was booked into jail on suspicion of murder early Tuesday, June 18, and held on $2 million bail following the attack on Monday night, June 17, police said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against the business student after finding that he acted in self-defence and reasonably believed the victim, Xavier Cerf, 27, had a gun.

"We believe that Mr. Gallegos’s actions were driven by a genuine fear for his life and the lives of others," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement Thursday, June 20.

He has since been released from jail, KTLA reported.

In a charge evaluation document released by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, authorities said Cerf, a homeless man, was seen on security camera video entering a 2010 Mercedes Benz parked near the back of the fraternity house where Gallegos lives.

Shortly after the car alarm activated, Gallegos, armed with a knife, and accompanied by two other people — one of whom was carrying a large wooden stick, went outside to investigate.

As they approached the car owned by one of their friends, the man refused to get out of the car and locked the door, claiming the car was "calling him" and "had his name," according to the document, NBC reported.

Moments later, he opened the driver’s door and appeared to be getting out when he told Gallegos he had a gun and reached for his waist, both witnesses told investigators.

Gallegos then grabbed the man’s hands with his left hand and stabbed him in the chest with the knife in his right hand, authorities said.

A struggle ensued and Cerf was stabbed three more times, according to prosecutors.

Cerf died at the scene — an alley behind USC’s Greek Row.

Gallegos, a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, remained on the scene and was arrested, officials said.

The teenager claimed he acted in self-defense and that Cerf claimed to have a gun, though police said no firearm was found.

The Victim

Gallegos, who just finished his second year at the university, is an acclaimed student pursuing a Business Administration and Management degree at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

The victim’s mother, Yema Jones, told NBC he was a dancer and comedian who moved to Los Angeles from Texas.

He was recently hospitalized for 20 days for an unspecified mental health ailment and was released on the day of his death.

"I’m lost. I’m confused. I’m hurt," she said. "You took my son. You took my baby. You took my baby."

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