Candlelight memorial held for man killed in Oakland Starbucks laptop theft

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Sunday, January 5, 2020
Vigil held for man killed in Oakland laptop theft
A candlelight vigil will be held at the Montclair District Starbucks at 11:30 am for Shuo Zeng, who died near the cafe trying to recover his stolen laptop. Organizers are asking people to wear purple to show solidarity.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A candlelight vigil was held for the 34-year-old man killed trying to recover his stolen laptop in Oakland on New Year's Eve.

Shuo Zeng was working on his laptop at the Montclair District Starbucks when someone stole it. He ran after the thief, was dragged by the getaway vehicle and later died.

Zeng's cousin who wishes to not publish her name shared with ABC7 News that, "He is the nicest guy I know, always so kind and encouraging. I believe he will still be with us."

She believes he either wanted to preserve all of his research or perhaps save the photos he was editing from their recent vacation together.

"I still can not believe that this happened," she said. "I do not want him to be remembered as a victim of a robbery because he's so much more than that. He's a scholar, he constantly reads."

The memorial was held at the same Starbucks on Mountain Boulevard in Oakland at 11:30 a.m. Since Thursday, the community has been mourning Zeng's death and post-it notes filled with condolences stuck to the Starbucks' window have grown.

Organizers asked people to wear purple to show solidarity. Shuo received his doctorate at Kansas State and the university's colors being royal purple.

Friends of Shuo also sent ABC7 News information on if anyone would like to write kind messages to his parents, they are able to send them to the Zeng Family at 5900 Hollis Street, Suite E in Emeryville, Calif. 94608.

The messages will be forwarded to the victim's family in China.

Councilmember Sheng Thao plans to meet with the community in response to the laptop theft from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Montclair's Farmers Market on Sunday.

"Nobody should feel unsafe walking around their neighborhood, working in a coffee shop, or operating a business in Oakland," Councilmember Thao said in a statement, "Oakland must prioritize its resources to not only protect its community but stop crimes before they happen."

Thao will also hold Public Safety Town Hall with Oakland Police Department on Jan. 9 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Montclair Presbyterian Church to propose new public safety policy.

"Oakland is a beautiful place to live," Thao said, "But tragedies like this remind us of the work we have to make it safer. My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of the victim and I am committed to finding solutions to this uptick in crime."

Two men have been charged in Shuo's death and appeared in court for the first time on Friday.

22-year-old Byron Reed and 21-year-old Javon Lee were identified as suspects. Bail for Lee was set at $255,000, while Reed is being held without bail.

According to charging documents, Lee was involved in taking the laptop. He's charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree robbery. Lee was previously convicted in Feb. 2017 on second-degree robbery in San Francisco.

Reed is charged with special circumstance murder and second-degree robbery. He was previously convicted in November 2017 on second-degree robbery in San Francisco.

Both men will be back in court Monday at 9 a.m. to enter pleas and determine representation.