Dirk Tillotson was gunned down inside his home in the Maxwell Park neighborhood just before 11:30 p.m. Friday by an intruder.
As the police investigate, friends and colleagues, remember the man they say is a tireless advocate, especially for the underprivileged of Oakland.
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“She’s a person who focused on students and equity, who focused on families,” said David Silver, education director appointed by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “It is just not acceptable for someone who has given so much to the community, so much to equity in education, so much to others, for this to happen to him.”
Police said Tillotson, 52, heard a noise, went to investigate and was shot dead by an intruder. His wife was also injured but is in stable condition.
Police say the couple or their home may have been targeted.
“There are grounds that we’re looking at that I can’t discuss with you today, but we have a few angles that we’re looking at,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said. “But nothing in our opinion should have led to his death.”
Tillotson was the founder of Great School Voices, a nonprofit watchdog for the quality and fairness of Oakland schoolchildren.
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âFor me, I think the irony is that he was such a generous person,â said Jumoke Hinton, a former member of the Oakland School Board. “If someone had come up to him and knocked on his door in the middle of the night and said ‘hey, I need something’ he would have given it to them.”
Hinton and Silver both told ABC7 News that Tillotson’s impact has been especially great during the pandemic when children in Oakland were learning from a distance.
âIt was someone who said that it was not acceptable for some communities to have access to the Internet, and others not,â said Silver. “He was the champion of the Internet for all.”
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Investigators returned to the Maxwell Park neighborhood in Tillotson to speak to residents, including Addis Rezene.
âI’ve never met a man like him,â Rezene said. “Right now, I don’t want to be in Oakland. We’re trying. We are trying as a community to reduce crime, but we’re not in control.”
In a written statement, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said of Tillotson:
âDirk Tillotson was a strong advocate for Oakland youth education, and he was dedicated to improving our world in all he did. He will be deeply missed by our district community, but we know the mark he has left supporting our students for years to come. “
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Tillotson family, if you would like to donate click here.
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