Friends stunned by the murder of famous Oakland educator Dirk Tillotson – CBS San Francisco


OAKLAND (CBS SF) – As Oakland homicide detectives attempt to unravel the details of his murder, friends have been stunned and mourning for famous educator Dirk Tillotson, who was killed in his home becoming the 105th victim homicide of the city.

Police have not officially identified Tillotson as the victim of Friday night’s fatal shooting at Oakland’s Maxwell Park home, according to friends and colleagues.

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Investigators were still trying to determine whether the shooting was the result of a burglary with home invasion.

Tillotson founded the nonprofit Great School Choices, where he advocated and blogged about educational inequalities and how to level the playing field. Friends said one of his many recent projects was digital inclusion. He worked to ensure that low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities had access to computers and the Internet.

“We have lost a community leader,” said Theo Oliphant, a longtime friend who met Tillotson at UC Berkeley Law School 29 years ago. “He had a great presence without being a great personality. He was not noisy. But he liked to laugh, and just a real warm laugh. And he was just filled with joy.

Oliphant was shocked by the murder. He said Tillotson was always there to help others.

“It doesn’t look real,” Oliphant said.

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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 released from the hospital and recovering from her injuries. No one was arrested in the homicide, no information about the shooter was released.

“The only thing to take away from all of this is that he died protecting those he loved,” said Paul Le, a good friend and managing director of the Tillotson nonprofit, Great. School Choices.

He said the murder is a huge loss in the education community. Tillotson has spent the past three decades working with students and charter schools in New Orleans, New York, and Oakland.

“It will be really difficult to move forward,” Le said. “But he wouldn’t want us not to find out.”

Tillotson was 52 years old. He is survived by his wife and an adult son.

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Friends and colleagues have created a GoFundMe page to help the family. The site is


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