SACRAMENTO, Calif. » A runner from Fiji was killed in a gang shooting in Northern California just weeks before he was set to attend a Louisiana university on a track scholarship, friends and authorities said.
Roy Ravana Jr. and another man, Kevin Ohta, were shot Monday in Sacramento County by two juveniles who opened fire with two handguns and a rifle on behalf of the Norteno street gang, prosecutors said. Ohta, 21, is expected to survive, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The suspects, ages 17 and 16, have been charged as adults with murder and attempted murder. They were arraigned Wednesday but did not enter pleas, said Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County district attorney’s office.
The exact circumstances of the shooting were unclear. Sheriff’s Sgt. Lisa Bowman told the Bee earlier this week it was not clear whether the victims fired any shots or whether they had any gang affiliations.
Friends and family of Ravana say they were not aware of his involvement in any criminal behavior.
Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, called Ravana an innocent bystander and said he was a great athlete and wonderful role model.
"Many people dream of being given an opportunity to pursue success overseas," the prime minister said in a statement. "Roy was living that dream when he died. And many young Fijians, even those who didn’t know him personally, will feel a sense of shock and loss at his passing."
Ravana, 20, represented Fiji, an island nation in the South Pacific near New Zealand and Australia, in the heats of the 60-meter race at the 2012 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Indoor Championships in Istanbul and later in the same year in the 400-meter race at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, the association said in a statement. He was also a 400-meter hurdler.
He had been selected to represent Fiji at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Athletics Fiji President Jo Rodan Senior told Radio New Zealand International that Ravana’s father was going to the U.S. Saturday to bring the body back to Fiji, and the funeral will be June 21 in Suva.
Ravana came to the United States two years ago and spent a year at Iowa Central Community College, according to the Bee.
He went to Sacramento, where he has extended family, to await final word on his college admission, said his friend, Ilene Lasaisamoa, 21.
She said a confirmation letter came about a month ago, and Ravana was planning to start school in the fall.
"We considered him family," she told the Bee.