The Los Angeles Police Department honored Christina Wilkerson, a student who helped save the life of a victim of a shooting, in a Wednesday ceremony honoring local heros.
Wilkerson, a senior majoring in sociology, ended up at a party on the 1200 block of West 37th Place on Sept. 4, where a confrontation between a friend and an uninvited guest over allegedly stolen property escalated quickly and resulted in a shot being fired after Wilkerson intervened.
Wilkerson’s actions after the shooting, which included providing her friend with CPR, proved critical in helping the victim retain consciousness until emergency responders arrived at the scene.
Four months later, with her friend recovered and the story having spread across the city and the state, officials honored Wilkerson for her efforts Wednesday night at the Los Angeles Police Department Operations South Bureau’s Community Heroes event at USC’s Town and Gown.
“I wasn’t going to be there that night,” Wilkerson said. “I feel like it kind of was destiny, like I was supposed to be there.”
When the altercation began that night, Wilkerson said her thoughts turned toward the more than 30 other party attendees.
“Nothing was going through my mind and everything was going through my mind,” Wilkerson said. “My first thought was to make sure everyone in the house was safe. The situation went from zero to 100 in five seconds.”
Wilkerson, along with other L.A.-area heroes, was honored in front of more than 100 members of the LAPD and USC communities, including LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LAPD Commissioner John Mack and Dept. of Public Safety Assistant Chief John Thomas.
Thomas commended Wilkerson’s potentially life-saving actions, especially those vital minutes following the shooting.
“What she did afterwards was truly heroic,” Thomas said. “She had the presence of mind to administer CPR to the person who was wounded and she continued to talk to him.”
Wilkerson, who is also a student worker for DPS, learned CPR during a three-hour seminar at her local church. Though Wilkerson had not administered CPR previously, she said instinct took over in the aftermath of the shooting.
“It really was an out-of-body experience,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t know how I was able to be so calm. I knew exactly what was happening from the moment I saw the gun to the moment I was giving my friend CPR.”
Thomas and DPS Capt. David Carlisle encouraged students to learn CPR at seminars similar to the one Wilkerson took part in but stressed that her actions were unusual.
“What she did was admirable and took a lot of courage, but it’s not something we encourage people to do,” Carlisle said. “She could have been seriously injured. There are some instances when you’re forced to take action.”
Wilkerson was quick to play down the unusual nature of her actions, emphasizing the ability of others to be everyday heroes.
Wilkerson said heroes are everywhere on campus, such as students who volunteer for USC’s Joint Educational Project.
“All of us have something within us to be heroic,” Wilkerson said. “Anytime you help someone else out, that’s you being a hero.”
Tyson Tyree Smith was arrested Sept. 14 and was charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault in connection with the shooting. Smith plead not guilty on all counts.
The Daily Trojan previously incorrectly reported that the female victim of the shooting, Wilkerson, was a graduate student.