Victim, suspects in fatal laptop theft in Oakland identified
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Two people were charged Friday for their roles in a theft at an Oakland coffee shop that left a man dead as he tried to get his stolen laptop back.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Byron Reed Jr., 22, of San Francisco with murder and special circumstance of committing murder during a robbery. If convicted he could face the death penalty. Javon Lee, 21, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and both men were charged with second-degree robbery.
Authorities said on Tuesday around 11:30 a.m. Shuo Zeng, 34, was working on his laptop inside a Starbucks in Oakland's Montclair District when one of the suspects walked up and took it.
Witnesses said that's when Zeng ran out of the coffee shop and chased after his stolen laptop. But when he caught up with the suspects' BMV, the vehicle took off and he ended up getting hit by the SUV.
He was transported to a local hospital with critical injuries where he died on his 34th birthday.
Authorities said Reed Jr. was the alleged getaway driver of the BMV and Lee was the one who took Zeng's laptop. A third suspect remains at large.
Reed's sister, Shaquila Reed, said her brother had nothing to do with the incident.
"He (doesn't) deserve this. My brother was not there," she said.
Shaquila claims her brother was at home with her child.
"My brother is there for me all the time and now they want to take him from me. That's not fair," she said.
As the court process begins for the two men, family and friends of the victim are in mourning.
One of Zeng's neighbors said he is shocked over the rash of laptop thefts at cafes.
"Things have kind of been happening in Oakland and Berkeley. The epidemic of senseless stupid thefts," he said.
According to his Linkedin profile, he was a native of China, graduated with a degree in physics from Sichuan University and got a doctorate at Kansas State University. Zeng's profile indicated that he moved to the Bay Area in 2015 to work for Aspera, an IBM company in Emeryville, as a research scientist and engineer.