Student Dies in Wave of Fresno Shootings


Photo by: Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Zurich Chatman

A Fresno City College student died Feb. 18 after he was shot at a church in southwest Fresno days earlier, following a wave of gun violence in southwest Fresno.

Zurich Chatman, 20, was on life support after the shooting on Feb. 10. He was in critical condition until he died on Feb. 18, according to Community Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell.

In a Facebook video released on Feb. 17 by Tamara LaShawn Gallaway Brown, who identified herself as Chatman’s mother, she said Chatman suffered major brain trauma and was brain dead.

Brown expressed the sorrow that she had in making the decision to remove her son from life support.

“I did what I could for my child,” she said in the video. “I loved him enough and raised him in the church. He knew the Lord, and the Lord knew him.”

FCC president Carole Goldsmith said that as a mother and grandmother, Chatman’s death is heartbreaking for her.

She said Chatman began attending FCC in the fall of 2016 as an African-American studies major and had wanted to be a teacher or a coach. He played basketball and football for Sunnyside High School.

“While I did not know him personally,” Goldsmith said, “it was reported to me that he was a humanitarian, loving son, good friend for many of our young students, and big brother to his 10 year old brother, whom he often talked about.”

Goldsmith said she learned that Chatman had already overcome odds in his short life to pursue an education, including having surgery when he was a child so a pacemaker could be inserted to mend a hole in his heart, and his parents divorcing when he was young.

“He was just coming into being his own man,” Goldsmith said.  “We won’t know what he could have been, how many people he could have helped.  What was to be his legacy?  All of that was stolen from us.  This story is repeating itself all too often in our society and we all should be outraged.”

The Fresno Bee reported that around 10:16 a.m on Feb. 10., Fresno police received multiple calls and a shotspotter alert in the 2200 block of Lee Avenue, after eight shots were heard in the area.

Officers arrived to find Chatman lying next to his van with a gunshot wound.

After an investigation, officers determined the shooting erupted when Chatman, accompanied by his girlfriend and her brother, were preparing to go out of town.  As they were getting ready, Chatman was struck in the head by a shot fired from a passing car, according to The Fresno Bee.

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said in an interview with The Fresno Bee that the shooting was more than likely connected to a recent string of gang violence and an escalating gang war in Fresno. That gang war and violence has since died down, Dyer told The Fresno Bee.

Chatman was part of the IDILE and SYMBAA programs, according to Rodney Murphy, a counselor for the programs at FCC.

“He was dynamic student with a great attitude,” Murphy said about Chatman. “He was very vocal about how people should stick together and how we should love each other. He was family-oriented, charismatic and just well-liked.”   

Murphy said he does not believe Chatman was involved in a gang and that the shooting was most likely a case of mistaken identity. “He was nowhere near being a gang member.”