RICHMOND, Calif. (KTVU) - A vigil was held Thursday night in Richmond for a young college student who was shot and killed on the I-80 freeway one week before.
The family of 24-year-old Demarcus Doss says he had nothing to do with violence, but was at the wheel of the wrong car.
"Scary to know you don't have to be gang related to get shot, how do you avoid that?" said his sister Shanyla Robinson, as dozens of people gathered on San Pablo Avenue, near the freeway ramp.
Robinson understands what people would assume.
"That's how Richmond is, it's usually gang banging," she said grimly.
But police have confirmed, the teenage shooter was gunning for someone else who often drives the targeted minivan.
Doss, who was driving, reacted heroically, his family says, by shielding his female passenger from harm.
"He hopped over her and that's why he got shot in the back of the head," explained Robinson, "so he saved her. She said he told her to get down, and then hopped over."
Doss's girlfriend told KTVU the van is associated with a separate household where he is employed as a home health aide.
As people lit candles and prayed in the shadow of the busy freeway, they mourned the 24-year-old college student and also praised the witnesses who pulled over to help.
Many called 911 with descriptions, enabling the capture of three suspects almost immediately.
"I'm glad that we could see that the system still works, and they got caught, " Doss's brother Kellis Love, Jr. told KTVU.
Doss's five siblings want justice, but say they are focused on the good life their youngest brother lived, and his selflessness in those final moments.
"That doesn't surprise me at all, actually. So I'm proud of him, and I know he's in a better place," said Love.
And the family says you couldn't find a better young man: a devout Christian, about to graduate from Cal State East Bay, majoring in criminal justice, and hoping to become a parole officer.
"Demarcus had no beef with nobody, ever, " friend Oteon Bordenave told KTVU, " and he was the most compassionate, humble guy I ever met."
Bordenave was one of Doss's classmates at Pinole Valley High School, and played basketball with him.
"When I'd still see him around, he said he was doing good, going to school, church, the gym, usual routine," said another former classmate Nick Feeney.
"You never expect someone to be gone like that, him of all people, he was a great dude."
A gofundme account has been set up to help offset the burial expenses for the family.
And this Saturday Mar. 18 at 12:30 pm, a benefit basketball tournament will be held at Contra Costa College in San Pablo.
Anyone can show up, solo or with a team, make a donation and play.