AS an athlete, Roy Ravana was trained to race for the finish line as soon as he heard the gun go off.
Ironically, the 21-year-old's dash for life at the sound of gunfire in a notorious American neighbourhood, brought a tragic end to his young life.
The 2011 Cola-Cola Games 400 metres champ and Pacific Games bronze medallist was shot dead in a midday shooting yesterday in the front yard of a home in Fruitridge, Sacramento.
"Roy was not part of a gang, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time," said former Fiji national Lani Takiveikata.
"For those living in the US, we know that during a shooting we take cover by dropping flat on the ground.
"This did not happen with Roy. He ran. And one of the shooters took a fatal aim at him.
"Since December last year he usually stayed at my place or at his Tongan friend's home.
"He came to my home and I came to know him through my sons who play rugby.
"His Tongan friend also plays rugby for the Sacramento Lions Rugby Club.
"He was at home with my boys over the weekend and they were all together swimming until 5am at another house because of the heat we're experiencing right now in Sacramento.
"So we were shocked and horrified when the Tongan family called a few hours later to relay news of his death.
"One of their boys was also shot in the leg.
"It's heartbreaking and we are devastated because Roy was like a son, he was treated like family from the time he started coming here.
Ms Takiveikata said Ravana was helping his friend's mother and brother clean the front yard when the tragedy unfolded.
"The mother saw two guys on a bike and saw they had guns.
"She went inside the house to warn the others when the shooting started."
Overseas media reports quoted the Sacramento Sheriff's officials as saying they suspect three guns - at least one of them a rifle - were fired in the 12:30pm attack at 48th Street and Baker Avenue, west of Stockton Boulevard.
The reports said gang graffiti covered a wooden fence about a block from where the shooting started.
According to Ms Takiveikata, Ravana was keen on pursuing his athletics career and talked about raising funds to return to college.
"His Tongan friend's brother was killed in a drive by a year ago today (yesterday).
"I don't know what the motive was but I know for sure that Roy was not a member of a gang.
"He was a good boy. My sons say he shared that he wanted to go back to college and I know he was serious about sports and his training regimen."