A Howard University music student was shot and killed early Tuesday in what might have been a robbery in the Mount Rainier area of Prince George’s County, according to police and school officials.

The incident occurred just after midnight in the 4200 block of Kaywood Drive, authorities said. Mount Rainier officers dispatched to the area on a report of shots fired found 24-year-old Alonzo James Guyton lying on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, according to police.

Guyton was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 1 a.m., police said.

Mount Rainier Police Chief Michael E. Scott said Guyton had been shot in the back and head. He said officers on the scene initially thought the incident was a “robbery gone bad” because when they found Guyton, he was not carrying a wallet. Guyton’s cellphone was found, however, and police have not confirmed the robbery theory, Scott said.

Scott said Prince George’s County homicide detectives investigating the case were working to determine whether Guyton had recently moved to the block where he was found or was going there to visit someone. He said Scott’s last known address was in the District.

Cpl. Mike Rodriguez, a Prince George’s police spokesman, said he had no information about suspects or a motive.

Guyton, a freshman music major at Howard, enrolled there last year in the hope of becoming a music teacher, producer and composer, according to school officials and his uncle, Charlie Guyton. He grew up in Chiefland, Fla., and served a brief stint in the Marine Corps before returning to school, Charlie Guyton said.

“He was a very good young man,” Charlie Guyton said. “He aspired to do great things in the music field.”

Friends and family members said Alonzo Guyton’s life was defined by his music. He composed songs and played several instruments, including drums, keyboards and guitar. Every time he returned to his home town, it seemed he could play something new, said Lishia Davis, 31, a longtime family friend who lives in Arlington, Tex.

“Alonzo loved music,” Davis said. “That was his big passion.”

News of Guyton’s death shocked friends, family members and the Howard University community alike. In a posting on the Howard University Facebook page, school President Sidney A. Ribeau said Guyton was “very active at Howard and well loved by his peers, faculty and the staff who worked closely with him.” Friends and family members said he was well-rounded, well-adjusted and not likely to seek out dangerous situations.

“It’s the very, very, very last thing you would ever expect to hear,” Davis said of Guyton’s slaying. “He’s just such a loving and outgoing and warm person.”

Davis said Guyton had a girlfriend he had considered proposing to and was a beloved uncle to his siblings’ children. She said her 12-year-old son thought of Guyton as family, even reminiscing Tuesday night about how he would miss throwing the football with “Uncle Lonzo.”

“He’s like the uncle that all kids want,” Davis said. “He’s so loved, and he’s so missed by so many people.”

Staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.