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Cupertino shooting: Friends of Shareef Allman react to his death

October 6, 2011 | 11:57 am

A house on Lome Way in Sunnyvale

Friends of Shareef Allman, the suspect in the fatal workplace shootings in Cupertino, reacted with sorrow and regret Thursday that another life had been lost -- and that the man they knew as a pillar of the African American community and a kind-hearted mediator of conflict will never be able to explain his actions.

While law-enforcement officials have not yet made a positive identification, a man matching the description of Allman was shot and killed by Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies on a residential driveway early Thursday, in the heart of the neighborhood where an intensive manhunt had taken place after Wednesday’s shootings.

Shortly after hearing the news, Rev. Jethroe "Jeff" Moore II, the head of the Silicon Valley NAACP, and longtime community activist Walter Wilson jumped into a car to seek out Allman's 17-year-old daughter, known to all Allman's friends, Moore said, as "the love of his life."

Photos: Shooting at California quarry

"We are devastated by the loss of life," Moore said of the addition of the 47-year-old Allman to the tally of three killed at his alleged hands at Lehigh Southwest Cement's Permanente plant on Wednesday. "They just closed the book and we’ll never know what page was ripped from it.... For my own selfish reasons I wish he had been taken alive so we could at least have had some conversation or explanation."

Moore expressed condolences to the "three other families who have been devastated by this. To get up to go to work and never come back, it’s a shock," he said. "As a community, we are hurt and at a loss for the proper words."

Yet the overwhelming emotion by those who knew Allman was one of stunned confusion. Moore, who met Allman years ago before each turned to Christianity, said his strapping friend was always well-dressed and well-spoken. "He was a ladies man and I thought I was too," he said with a laugh about their early shenanigans.

But the days of club-hopping turned to more serious pursuits. In his cable-access show, in the book he self-published, and in the daily life he led, Allman pressed other African American men to be strong, honest leaders, Moore and Wilson said. He raised his daughter from infancy  by himself. Her face was on the cover of his book, "Amazing Grace," which detailed his own troubled childhood and spoke out against domestic violence. He also helped raise a son, now 20, who has a different mother.

"He came out of a family where there was some abuse between the mother and father, and he always talked about how he survived and made it out of that and he would never have that in his daughter’s life," Moore said. "He talked about how as black men we need to take responsibility  for our families and raise them -- be dads, be strong dads -- a point he always drove home in his messages."

Now, his daughter is fatherless, an outcome Moore and Wilson called "mind boggling."

What baffles them most is that the Allman they knew had the skills to resolve conflicts -- and often did. He was the one who would intercede when emotions ran high among others to say, "How can we work this out? Let’s come to the table. We can come to an understanding that is satisfactory," Moore said. "I never even heard him raise his voice."

Those notions of Allman are now upside-down. According to a San Jose Mercury News interview with one of the men injured in the shootings, Allman clocked in at 4 a.m., poured a cup of coffee, then pulled a gun from his jacket and opened fire. Three men would die there and six would be injured. Allman is believed to have shot a woman in the arm a few hours later in a failed carjacking attempt, bringing the toll of injured to seven.

Wilson said that Allman had shared problems he was having at the cement plant, where he was employed for 15 years.

"He talked about his job in the past, on several occasions, that people were trying to do things to undermine him," said Wilson, who met Allman nearly a quarter-century ago. "He did feel that there were some people there who were doing systemic discriminatory practices."

But, Wilson said, "in general the issues that he had there, it seemed to me like he had it under control.... He did have options. That’s what boggles the mind."

Wilson, Moore and another local pastor Wednesday set up at a church near the command post and told law-enforcement officials "that if they spotted him to bring us out so we could talk him down."

They never got that chance.


Map: Shootings in Cupertino

Friends of suspect express disbelief

Shooting suspect's strange behavior detailed

-- Lee Romney

Photo: Before they enter, sheriff's deputies escort a woman and baby out of a house on Lome Way in Sunnyvale, where suspected gunman Shareef Allman was found shot on Thursday. Credit: Gary Reyes / San Jose Mercury News