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Oscar Duncan, a Former Venice 'Youth of the Year' and Youth Minister, Killed at 23

Oscar Duncan, 23, a singer, youth pastor and worker at the Boys & Girls Club of Venice is being remembered after being shot and killed in Venice.

The 23-year-old Venice man shot and killed by an unidentified gunman was remembered Tuesday for his singing and dancing talent, devotion to preaching and work to keep youths on the right track.

Oscar Duncan, a 2006 graduate of Venice High School, was shot and killed about 10:30 p.m. Monday night in the 600 block of Santa Clara Avenue after he and his girlfriend were confronted by four men in a white, mid-sized sedan, police said. Words were exchanged and Duncan apparently was defending his girlfriend when someone inside the vehicle fired one round and struck Duncan in the head, said Sgt. Craig Brown of the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division.

"The victim had no gang affiliation whatsoever," Brown said.

Duncan attended Mark Twain Middle School before moving onto Venice High School where he earned good grades and played on the school's football team, said his cousin, Jumond Norman.

A growing memorial tribute was growing on the sidewalk Tuesday outside the home where Duncan lived with his mother as stunned friends and family were offered condolences.

"So many people have come by the house because they knew he was 'that' kid," Norman said.

Duncan was a youth pastor at a church in Compton and mentor at the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, which he belonged to growing up, Norman said. In 2006, he was named the Venice club's Youth of the Year and in May he received the National Service to Youth Award for his "unusually devoted service" for helping youths for the past five years.

"He was like a breath of fresh air," Norman said. "He grew up with a lot of negativity around him and disassociated himself with it and encouraged others to do the same."

Duncan was constantly upbeat and was the type of person who would go out of his way to cheer someone up if they were down, Norman said. Duncan often talked to youths about avoiding gangs, checked in on elderly people in the neighborhood and could usually be found either at church or at the Venice Boys & Girls Club.

Erikk Aldridge, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, said that Duncan had been part of the club since age 6 and was hired after receiving the club's top honor.

"We hired him in May 2006 and this past May he received his five-year service pin," Aldridge said. "That's a pretty big milestone, being only 23 and devoting five years to youth development."

Duncan in 2006 helped start a special audio engineering program with Venice music producer Scott Litt, who produced six albums by R.E.M., at the Boys & Girls Club of Venice, Aldridge said. Duncan recruited students from elementary school through high school and taught them how to run a music board and record their songs and poetry. In addition, he was the club's teen services coordinator, where he acted as a junior staff career counselor and a mentor, Aldridge said.

"Without question, he was one of the most influential staff members here at the club," Aldridge said.

Duncan also was a youth pastor at Greater Zion Church Family in Compton.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he would adjourn an upcoming City Council meeting in Duncan's memory and would work with police to see if a reward is necessary. Anyone with information on the shooting should call homicide detectives at 213-382-9470, or after business hours at 877-527-3247.

Duncan's older brother, Curtis Nettles, was a star football player at Culver City High School who earned a scholarship to play at Washington State University and set an example for his younger sibling, Norman said.

Duncan was known as "Choir Boy" and he performed gospel-inspired hip-hop and also was a dancer.

"He was a real special person," Norman said.

Angelo Gasca, the longtime head coach of the Venice High School football team, said that Duncan was one of the best kids he's ever known.

"He's one of my favorite players at Venice High School, and I went to Venice High School," said Gasca, who graduated from the school in 1978. "I would have loved to have him as a teammate. I feel blessed that I was his coach and got to know him."

Duncan often would sing a song on the bus after games, making up a rhyme about a player that would be spot on and funny, Gasca said. Gasca used to tell the other coaches to ride back on the bus because Duncan was so funny.

"If you knew him, the three things he emphasized were God, music and Venice and, I think in that order, those were the important things in his life when I knew him," Gasca said. "I knew it meant a lot to him to be part of our program and to play football at Venice High School and it meant so much to me to have him do it."

Gasca said that Duncan earned good grades, stayed out of trouble and was well liked by his teammates, his classmates and teachers.

"We have to find a way to make the streets and our city, and I guess the whole world, a safer place for our kids," Gasca said. "If this can happen to someone like Oscar who did everything right, it can happen to any of us, and that's not a very good thought to be thinking."

(Editor's Note: Updated at 11:15 p.m. to correct name of the church where Duncan was a youth pastor to Greater Zion Church Family.)

Lyra June 06, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Thank you, finally, for thorough reporting on this senseless act of violence. Though there has been extensive coverage by the LA Times and others all day of (1) a 1 year old shot to death in Watts last night and (2) a body that washed ashore in Santa Monica - where was the immediate reporting from other outlets about this young man being gunned down? Deepest condolences to his family. --A Santa Clara Neighbor
sgt Ross June 06, 2012 at 04:37 AM
The church is GREATER ZION CHURCH FAMILY.. he was youth pastor at greater zion
Paul Chavez (Editor) June 06, 2012 at 06:12 AM
sgt Ross -- Thanks for clarifying.
JulieD June 06, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Gosh this makes me sad. He was just tweeting about his music yesterday... I never met him, but my heart goes out to his family. You can be sure he'll be there to greet you, when it's time to meet again. And whether or not they catch these guys, they'll judge themselves when it's time to watch their own lives flash before them.
Jacqueline June 06, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I've never read an article that made me so angry and proud at the same time.Oscar Ducan was amazing young man he was cleary an instrument of God, someone who chose to use his talent to help people young and old a positive mentor to all. May God strengthen his family ,friends,and all the people this young man touched.R.I.P.Oscar Ducan.
Linda Lucks June 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
This senseless death is devastating to Oscar's family, the Boys and Girls Club family and tragic for all of us. May Oscar rest in peace. The VNC will dedicate the meeting in his memory.
Sam K June 06, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I saw it on just about every TV channel. My condolences to his family and friends. What a senseless and tragic nightmare this must be for them. The world will be a sadder place without him, I'm sure.
Spirit Of Venice June 06, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Just such a shame. What was he doing? Walking down a sidewalk with his girl on their way home. Could it have been prevented? Sadly, no. A random act of violence by some guys in a car. No special segment of our population to be blamed. No changes to be made to prevent something like this from happening in the future. - He devoted his life to serving God...to serving light, love, hope and community. If we try to follow his example, then his life will have stood for something, and in this way we will honor his memory.
Lyra June 06, 2012 at 08:44 PM
In re Sam K comment below - I meant print and radio media, specifically the LA Times's "LA Now" local news section. There was nothing all day, yesterday, June 5. They finally got around to posting something last night--it was ultra-brief and read like a regurgitated perfunctory police press release. Today, though, they are giving the story the attention it is due. As for television news, crime stories are their lifeblood and play well on TV so it's no surprise they were fully on it as usual. The Duncan murder opened last night's 5pm NBC broadcast. But as for actual non-superficial, text-based reporting, there wasn't much of it to be seen most of the day yesterday until this Patch item went up.
Cico Hernandez June 07, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Dear blessed Bro Duncan; I never knew you here,but by the story of your life, I know I will see you in the holy place with our lord Jesus.The angels rejoice at the coming of his saints. The praises must have been so loud when you went home. But still you left a ministry for the Del Rey area and beyond, that only grows stronger as seen by those that knew your work and life. If your assassin thinks he won, he's sorely mistaken. The word states "No one can take you out of my hand" God already has the victory and you dedicated to having your loved ones join the GOD's family as you worked to bring them in the fold.” If your loved ones want to see you again, they only need to follow in kind as you led. Brother Oscar Duncan. . . I will meet you soon and rejoice in the Lords dwelling place along with all the saints that have gone before.No more sorrow, tears, hunger or want. Revelations 7:13 – 17 "For I consider that the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us " Paul - Romans 8:18 "Blessed are the dead from now on. Yes say the Lord from now on. Yes, says the spirit, that they may rest from their labors for their deeds follow with them." Revelation 14:13 I pray daily that your loved ones know you didn’t die in vain. As for your killer! "Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do. They sure didn’t know the loving brother Oscar Duncan. Brother Duncan I will see you soon. GOD Bless! Cico
Sergio June 08, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I grew up in the Venice area and have seen it change a lot in the last 35 years and I had hoped that this sort of violence would stop and now you see that this exceptional, unique and positive individual has been taken away from our community by a spineless act of pulling the trigger. His poor family is no doubt proud of their boy and they will need all God's blessings to endure their life without such an amazing individual. This type of person does not come around every day, making it a deep loss for everyone, whether you knew him or not, the ripples of his influence will reach us all at some point in the future. My prayers and deepest sympathies go out to his family.
lisa June 08, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I didn't know him, but Oscar's death brought me to tears...why does it seem that the good die young? And why does our community of Venice still host shootings? and why is it so easy to get a gun? and don't these people think at all before they pull the trigger? I hope there is something to the philosophy that his work on Earth was complete and that he goes on...in any case, his family and friends can be extremely proud of such a giving, caring and inspirational young man. Hopefully his tragic death will provide even more determination to those who know of his story to carve positive action with their lives.
Ray June 10, 2012 at 05:43 AM
I hadn't see him since he was a little tike. I knew this young man's parents and family. I am totally devastated. I grew up in Venice, but now reside on the east coast. This young man was an extremely bright light; our hope for the future. I cannot understand why someone would do this. My continued prayers and love to the family. RH

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