Man killed before Christmas was organ donor

December 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
One family is turning their tragedy into the gift of life on Christmas.

Charles Butler, Jr., 23, was shot and his car set on fire in Oakland last week. On Christmas Eve, his family -- still hurting from the tragedy -- tried to keep the spirit alive by finding peace in the knowledge that he will be helping people even in his death.

Recently graduating from a merchant Marine training program was one of Butler's proudest moments. His oldest sister Valerie says that pride extended throughout the family, but especially for their father, who was a Marine in his younger days.

"You can imagine the joy and the pride that my dad...had knowing that his son was going to go on and follow in his footsteps," Valerie Butler said.

Butler's youngest sister Ann is the last of the family to have seen him alive. Butler was shot to death just yards from their house. Ann heard the gunshots and her dad asked her to see what happened.

"Go under the tape and look, and to my surprise it's actually my brother's car -- was the shock of my life," said Ann Butler.

"He's coming right down the street," said Valerie. "They're chasing -- boom, boom, boom, six bullets. They weren't happy with that. Drove up by him, put the last bullet in his head over nothing. He didn't know these guys."

Butler had just been issued his merchant Marine passport full of pages that will remain unmarked -- world travels that will never be.

"It's blank," said Ann Butler. "He was supposed to get his stamp. He was on his way."

But Butler's death will not be in vain.

"A friend of my cousin's informed her that her husband is dying," said Valerie Butler. "He needs a liver."

On this holiday weekend, but Butlers are calling for justice, but they're also celebrating: Charles Butler is an organ donor.

"The best Christmas gift would have been to have my brother here with me for Christmas," said Ann Butler, "but the fact that he gave his organs to someone else is the most wonderful Christmas gift ever. My brother is giving life to other people."

The man who will be receiving Butler's liver will go into surgery on Christmas morning. Six other recipients will also benefit from Butler's organs -- a pretty powerful gift.

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