Eli Weinstock and his father, Michael Weinstock, at the top of a mountain they climbed in St. Lucia. (Family photo)

A 20-year-old sophomore at American University in Northwest Washington was found dead inside his off-campus residence last week, according to police and school officials.

He was identified as Eli Weinstock, from Columbus, Ohio. He was majoring in communication.

“He was a sweet person,” his father, Michael Weinstock, said in a telephone interview from Ohio. “He loved kids, was curious, loved music. He had a lot of things he was looking forward to.”

Authorities said they have not determined how Weinstock died and are awaiting results from an autopsy. Michael Weinstock, 56, said his son had no underlying health issues.

Weinstock’s body was found Wednesday morning inside a house he shared with several other students in the 4000 block of Van Ness Street NW, near campus and between Wisconsin and Nebraska avenues.

“We extend our sympathy to Eli’s family and friends and those in the AU community who knew him,” the university said in a statement, adding: “Eli was a young person of great talent and promise. Many are profoundly touched by his loss.”

Michael Weinstock, an emergency room physician, said the family is trying to learn more about his son’s death. “We would like to get more information,” he said, “and find out what happened.”

Weinstock said a police detective told him Eli had been out with people from a fraternity for a happy hour before he was taken back to his residence Tuesday night.

The father said his son had joined a fraternity and was going through orientation, which was confirmed by American University.

Police said a roommate found him dead the next morning.

Dustin Sternbeck, a D.C. police spokesman, confirmed that account, saying that based on preliminary information, Weinstock had been pledging a fraternity and had been at a happy hour the night before his body was found. Sternbeck did not have information on where the happy hour took place.

Police did not say whether they think Weinstock was injured or impaired while he was out and did not provide a full timeline of where he may have been.

The university did not offer information about Weinstock’s whereabouts during the hours before his death or other details of the investigation.

“The police have not shared their findings,” said Lisa Stark, a school spokeswoman, adding that the campus is supporting the police inquiry and waiting for its results.

All student organizations — including fraternities and sororities — are required to hold events virtually because of the pandemic, Stark said.

In an Instagram page, the university’s chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity said Weinstock was a new member and other members “were shocked and deeply saddened” to learn of his death.

Stephen Deane, chapter president, said he knew Weinstock but was not aware of the happy hour event.

Michael Weinstock said that his son enjoyed school and that, during his freshman year, he used his fluency in Spanish to teach English to young children in the District through a university mentorship program. He had just driven to the District in a new car after a family ski vacation in Colorado.

He moved into the house on Van Ness Street with a friend with whom he had once gone to camp in Wisconsin and others he knew and was taking classes remotely. It helped all of them while staying inside because of the coronavirus.

Michael Weinstock said his son loved music and listened to hip-hop. The father said he recently sent his son a Doobie Brothers song, Black Water, and was pleased when his son “called me back and said how much he enjoyed it.”

His parents bought Weinstock a Subaru Impreza last summer, and he installed decorative lights that flashed to the beat of music playing on the stereo.

Michael Weinstock said his son did not yet know what career he would seek after graduating.

Weinstock is survived by his father; his mother, Elizabeth, also a doctor; two sisters, ages 13 and 21; and a brother, 16.

Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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