Family of slain auto-shop owner anxious for justice as Oakland police seek suspect

The family of an auto-shop owner killed in East Oakland said Tuesday that he was most likely killed during an argument over a car battery.

"It's a battery. At most, it was 60 bucks," said Michael Dugger, the son-in-law of Aristeo Zambrano. "By all accounts, this man's life was taken for nonsense, for a hot-headed moment over a stupid battery."

It happened at Bay City Alternators near 88th Avenue and International Boulevard on Feb. 3. A customer found Zambrano on the ground and called 911. 

Oakland police identified a suspect, Robert Leigh Moore, 33, in March. He has not been arrested but has been charged with murder.

"That does bring some comfort, but it also raises the question, well if you know who did it, and why, you've got an active murder warrant for this guy, then what's the problem?" Dugger asked.

Oakland police told KTVU on Tuesday that the department had no additional details to provide.

Dugger says the suspect apparently wanted his money back.

"He wanted a refund and something in that transaction Robert didn't like the way my father-in-law gave him the money back or something like that," Dugger said.

Zambrano worked in the 1970s as a farmworker in Salinas, cutting broccoli and lettuce. He was also a leader with the United Farm Workers.

He then switched gears and opened his auto shop in East Oakland 33 years ago. 

Dugger showed the apron Zambrano wore every day at work.

"He had it full of grease, still smells like old grease and automotive. This is what this man wore," he said.

His killing has devastated his tight-knit family, including his wife of 50 years. Zambrano's 99-year-old mother has outlived him. 

"This man wasn't a confrontational man. He wasn't an angry man. He was a hard-working, proud man who loved family," Dugger said.

His wife, Silvia Dugger says she wants justice for her father.

"I hope they get him so he can pay for what he did, even though I'm not going to get my father back, but he needs to pay. He needs to be accountable for what he did," she said.

Michael Dugger had this message for the suspect. 

"That he's a coward. Robert Leigh Moore, you're a coward. You shot an old man over a battery. That's what you are."

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and


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