OAKLAND (CBS SF) — While Oakland homicide detectives attempt to unravel the details surrounding his slaying, friends were stunned and in mourning for well-known educator Dirk Tillotson, who was killed in his home becoming the city’s 105th homicide victim.
Police have not officially identified Tillotson as the victim of the fatal late Friday night shooting in the home in Oakland’s Maxwell Park neighborhood, friends and colleagues have.READ MORE: UPDATE: High-Speed Stolen RV Pursuit Ends In Horrific San Ramon Crash
Investigators were still trying to determine if the shooting was the result of a home invasion robbery.
Tillotson founded the non-profit, Great School Choices, where he advocated and blogged about school inequities and how to level the playing field. Friends said one of his many recent projects was digital inclusion. He worked to make sure low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities have access to computers and the internet.
“We lost a leading light in the community,” said Theo Oliphant, a long-time friend who met Tillotson at the UC Berkeley law school 29 years ago. “He had a big presence without being a big personality. He wasn’t loud. But he loved to laugh, and just real hearty laugh. And he just was filled with joy.”
Oliphant was shocked by the murder. He said Tillotson was always about helping others.
“It doesn’t seem real,” said Oliphant.READ MORE: Group Forms To Help Former California Prison Inmates' Return to Society
Investigators said someone broke into his home. Tillotson apparently woke up and confronted the intruder, who shot and killed him. Investigators said the gunman also shot his wife.
Friends told KPIX 5 that Tillotson’s wife was out of the hospital and recovering from her injuries. No one has been arrested in the homicide, no information about the gunman released.
“The one thing to take away from all this is that he died protecting those he loved,” said Paul Le, a good friend and a managing director of Tillotson’s non-profit, Great School Choices.
He said the murder is a huge loss in the education community. Tillotson spent the last three decades working with students and charter schools in New Orleans, New York, and Oakland.
“It’s going to be really hard to move forward,” Le said. “But he wouldn’t want us to not figure it out.”
Tillotson was 52 years old. He is survived by his wife and an adult son.MORE NEWS: 'Survivor 41' Episode 6: The Merge Part 1
Friends and colleagues set up a GoFundMe page to help the family. The site is https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-dirk-tillotsons-family