OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- More than 100 people packed the intersection in front of the Starbucks in Oakland's Montclair neighborhood for a vigil to honor Shuo Zeng.
"Montclair! He was a warrior! He tried to protect his (laptop). He worked hard for that computer," says Waheed, a nearby business owner, who spoke at the vigil.
His praise of Zeng's courage was met with applause from the crowd.
"The fact that he stood up for himself, I am so deeply sorry that he paid the ultimate price for that," said one of Zeng's co-workers, who also spoke at the vigil.
Zeng died chasing after the man who stole his laptop, while he was working at the Starbucks on New Year's Eve.
Zeng's cousin, Jessie, flew in from the East Coast. She says because of China's one-child policy, she considered her cousin as her older brother.
"When I was little, I was always looking up to him. He was like my role model. He was always there for me, to support me. Every single time, I know that I can count on him," she says.
Zeng held a PhD in numerical physics. Serban Simu hired Zeng at IBM Aspera in Emeryville. Simu says Zeng was among the top ten global leaders in his field of science.
"(He had) a very powerful brain. Took on and learned a totally new field. And became one of the very few world experts in that field," says Simu.
Zeng's friends and colleagues spoke of his incredible mind, academic achievements and strong sense of ethics, as well as being a good athlete and avid photographer. One of his friends talked about how Zeng instilled a strong sense of hope in others.
"I hope that all of you can take that 'hope' with you when you leave here today. That part of Shuo will never die," he says.
"How many people are here that he asked: how is your country? How is your family? How are your kids? This was Shuo. He was an amazing human being!" says Carmen Enachescu, another of his co-workers.
Zeng's parents flew in from China on Saturday, but they did not attend the vigil. Also because of China's one-child policy, Shuo was their only child.
The post-it note memorial that lines two walls of the Starbucks will be made into a scrapbook and given to Shuo's parents.