About 150 people gathered outside an Oakland Starbucks in the Montclair neighborhood on Sunday to honor Shuo Zeng, who died on Dec. 31 — his birthday — after trying to retrieve his laptop from thieves.
A memorial with flowers and hundreds of messages on post-it notes covered the cafe's windows. Many of the vigil attendees were residents of Montclair who didn't know Zeng, but had heard about his passing on the news.
Zeng, 34, was a research engineer at the Emeryville-based data transport and streaming technology company Aspera. Friends, family and coworkers said he had a passion for photography and trained in self-defense practice of Krav Maga.
"He fulfilled his family's dreams for him to achieve and do well," Zeng's coworker Mike Spradley said. "And they raised an extraordinarily brave, determined, brilliant young man."
After chasing down the thieves who stole his laptop, Zeng was hit and dragged by their getaway car. He passed away due to his injuries.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has filed charges against two men in connection with Zeng's death. Both have previous convictions for robbery in San Francisco.
Local Councilmember Sheng Thao thinks that police officers assigned to patrol Montclair are too often called to help in other jurisdictions, leaving the neighborhood susceptible to crime.
In response, Thao is proposing an ordinance that would ensure police are more present in the neighborhood. She said she will send the legislation to Oakland's Rules Committee when councilmembers are back in session on Jan. 15.
"If there is a shooting in other parts of Oakland, yes, officers should go to that, that's an emergency," Thao said. "However, we shouldn't allow for one area to go unattended or not have a public safety patrol."
If the ordinance passes in the city’s Rules Committee, it will be passed off to the Public Safety Committee before a final vote by the city council.
Thao will also hold a Community Safety Town Hall on Thursday night with members of Oakland Police Department and District Attorney Nancy O’Malley at Montclair Presbyterian on 5701 Thornhill Drive.