On the morning of December 31, 2019, Shuo Zeng was getting ready to celebrate his birthday and Year Year’s Eve with his friends; he loved traveling and photography and he was working on his laptop at a local Starbucks in his neighborhood of Montclair in Oakland, California. That was the last day of his life.
Witnesses saw two suspects cause a commotion at Starbucks, they then grabbed Zeng’s laptop and ran away. Zeng pursued the suspect(s) as they escaped into a waiting getaway car. An eye witness says she saw him lunge to grab his laptop inside the car, he was then dragged into the road and died in the hospital from the injuries.
Zeng was liked by his neighbors, colleagues and his friends, they described him as being friendly and polite. He had a doctorate degree and worked in Emeryville as an Engineer. His parents flew from China to identify his body. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. Every New Years Eve on his birthday they’ll be reminded again of his senseless murder.
In Asian traditional culture, New Year’s Day represents renewal. Specifically in Korea, everyone dresses in all new clothes and visits their grandparents and elders to show respect. The children bow to their elders, and the elders give money and gifts as a blessing for the new year. I remember how my mother would always say how important it was to be happy and not cry or have an argument on New Year’s Day because it set the tone for the rest of the year. It was a folk superstition that I still recall every January 1st. Zeng’s parents will have only a tragic reminder of their son’s murder on what should be a happy day.
Surveillance cameras, along with witnesses, identified two suspects, Byron Reed and Javon Lee, who were both previously convicted of robbery in 2017. I wonder what their sentence was in 2017? I know they haven’t been convicted for Zeng’s murder (yet), but all evidence points to their guilt. Why were they released from prison so early to commit more robberies? Our prison system is a failure. Innocent people are imprisoned and guilty people are released early. It’s a booming business of indentured slavery, not a place of criminal reform.
I have an especially eerie feeling because I was there that day in Montclair on December 31st. I’m rarely in that neighborhood, it’s considered to be a quiet, affluent area in the Oakland hills where wealthy white collar professionals live, (aka it’s a mostly Caucasian neighborhood). I was working there to cover for staff that called in sick. It was a regular day but in the afternoon a patron shared the story of what had happened. No one realized that he had died yet, but just hearing about how he was dragged by the getaway car was upsetting enough.
Some neighbors said on camera that no laptop was worth losing his life over and I agree with that, but I also understand why Zeng chased after his property. Laptops and smart phones contain so much of our lives nowadays: photos and irreplaceable, private data, makes losing them feel disastrous. Zeng loved travel photography and I bet he thought it was worth the attempt to get them back. When adrenaline is triggered, it’s fight or fight and I think he decided to fight. I respect his bravery; I don’t think it was about materialism at all, but about him treasuring the memories that were captured in his photographs. Instead of blaming the victim for his own death by saying that he should’ve let go, I think the blame lies solely on the thieves. I actually think that perhaps Zeng couldn’t let go, because his hand was stuck in the car and he was being dragged facedown on the street by the car. There was a candlelight vigil this afternoon at the scene of his death. I wish I could’ve attended it. I wish his grieving family a lifetime of peace and swift justice for their son’s tragic death.
Victim In Fatal Laptop Theft At Starbucks In Montclair Died On His Birthday – CBS San Francisco
— Read on sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/01/02/details-emerge-about-victim-in-fatal-starbucks-laptop-grab-in-montclair/
‘It Was Like a Movie’: Man Dies After Chasing Laptop Thief in Oakland – NBC Bay Area
— Read on www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/east-bay/it-was-like-a-movie-man-dies-after-chasing-laptop-thief-in-oakland/2209007/?akmobile=y&akdevice=androidphone&sslEnabled=true&
Police said they have arrested two of the three suspects tied to a man’s death after the victim attempted to prevent a laptop theft in Oakland. — Read on www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/east-bay/suspects-in-oakland-laptop-homicide-due-in-court/2210024/
Convicted Robbers Charged in Oakland Laptop Theft, Homicide – NBC Bay Area
— Read on www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/east-bay/suspects-in-oakland-laptop-homicide-due-in-court/2210024/?akmobile=y&akdevice=androidphone&sslEnabled=true&