Computer science student gunned down while in prayer circle at friend's graduation

The family of a college student from the East Bay who was shot and killed in Oakland during a graduation celebration is asking for help.

Police say they don't have a motive for the killing of Zavier Patton of Hayward.

His sister, Krystal King, says she couldn't have asked for a better brother.

She says the 19-year-old was studying computer science in college and that he was a role model to his young nephews and others.

"He was really active, smart, wise," says King.

Zavier's family shared with KTVU video of him moving into his dorm at California State University Northridge one year ago as he started his freshman year of college.

He came back home to the East Bay to live with his sister because of the pandemic.

"Every day when I got home from work, he would ask me how my day was. Kids don't ask. I'm supposed to come home and ask how was your day," says King. 

She says she helped raise Zavier after they lost their mother to cancer six years ago.

But shortly after 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 15, he was shot and killed in a parking lot of a housing complex on International Boulevard in Oakland. 

He was attending a graduation celebration for a friend. 

"I was supposed to take care of him," says King.

Police say a white SUV and a gray Nissan sedan drove by and someone from the Nissan opened fire.

Investigators say Zavier and his friends do not appear to be the target.

"This group of young men was not involved in any violence," says Oakland Police Lieutenant Fred Shavies.  

Police say Zavier's death is among a number of senseless killings in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday, there have been 57 homicides in Oakland this year.

"We need help in figuring out who's responsible for these crimes and the other homicides we've seen in the last two weeks," says Oakland Police Deputy Chief Leronne Armstrong. 

Investigators say Zavier was in a prayer circle with other young people when he was shot.

"Me and my wife dropped him off at that party," says Bryan Bassette, Zavier's brother-in-law.  

Family members say they can't help but worry about the safety of their children.

"You can send your kid to a party and when you think it's safe, they might not come home. That's really an unsettling feeling," says Bassette. 

Zavier ran track and played basketball at Skyline High School.

Relatives say he was a great student and a loving uncle to his nephews.

The family wants whoever's responsible for the killing to be arrested and put behind bars.

King says not being able to pick up the phone to talk or text Zavier is difficult, "Just simple things like that are just heartbreaking now."

Zavier was killed just days from starting his sophomore year with online classes.

His family plans to hold his funeral services at Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward on Sept. 2.

A GoFundMe has been created to help his family with funeral expenses.

Amber Lee is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Amber at and follow her on Twitter @AmberKTVU