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Story of Slain 18-year-old Robbery Suspect Touches Nerve

Many questions remain unanswered about the fatal shooting of Kibrom Bairu, 18, during an attempted robbery in San Ramon. The story has struck a familiar yet elusive chord as reports about it spread around the the East Bay.

If you only read his , the 18-year-old in San Ramon Wednesday appeared to be living a life that glamorized money, thug life and guns.

But those who worked with him through a local youth empowerment program say there was more to him than the trail he left online.

Hayward resident Kibrom Bairu was also working at a Union City cafe as part of an internship program for troubled youths.

He was trying to improve his life, said owner Paddy Iyer on Thursday.

Bairu was enrolled in Hayward-based nonprofit ’s youth employment program, which got him an internship at Paddy’s Coffee House in Union City. SoulCiety's program is designed to provide at-risk and underserved youths with educational and professional development opportunities, according to the youth empowerment organization’s website.

Bairu was one of three participants interning at Paddy’s through SoulCiety.

“We work with at-risk youths trying to give them a focus on life,” café owner Iyer said.

Though he had only been interning for a month, Iyer said Bairu was a respectful, courteous and hardworking employee and one he had come to depend on.

“[Bairu] was very professional, very punctual, very dependable,” Iyer said. “We really had high hopes.”

Employees at Paddy’s and administrators at SoulCiety were devastated to learn of Bairu’s death and the circumstances surrounding it.

“It was completely unexpected,” said Aaron Horner, program director for SoulCiety. “He really was doing a great job working with us … He was a kind person, he was considerate. He took his job seriously and had a great work ethic. He was pleasant to be around.”

According to Horner, Bairu was involved with SoulCiety for about three months. As part of the program, Bairu was required to attend weekly skills workshops. He never missed a session and kept good on his commitment to Paddy’s, Horner said.

Though Horner was not able to speak on Bairu’s background, he added that Bairu was enrolled in an adult education program.

“The shame is that he’s not going to be known for who he really was because of the decision he made,” Horner said. 

“If you knew him, you would see that he exhibited the skills to be a contributing member of society,” Horner said. “We’re just very saddened by the entire situation. It’s very, very unfortunate that that decision was made. Our heart goes out to his family that has to deal with the loss of someone who could have added greatly to this world.”

However, authorities say Bairu was the only suspect brandishing a firearm during Wednesday’s botched robbery at in San Ramon.

San Ramon police say Bairu was making threatening statements when he was shot once.

After being wounded, he left the store and collapsed on San Ramon Valley Boulevard. Responding officers arrested Bairu and he was taken to , where he later died.

Three other suspects in the robbery reportedly fled in a 1990s white sedan and are still being sought by police, San Ramon Police Chief Scott Holder said.

The case is still under investigation, and San Ramon police ask if anyone has any information to call them at 925-973-2700.

San Ramon Patch Editor Patrck Creaven contributed to this report.

John Stashik June 02, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Nice shot. Now the loser is gone forever. What's the problem?
John Stashik June 02, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Show some concern for the decent people this loser threatened and attempted to rob.
Todd Groves June 02, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Kids get lost in this collision of narratives. Between "hang'em high," and, "victim of society," we are losing more kids -and they are kids- everyday to a street culture that's life-curdling. Both narratives exempt the believer from having to find real solutions to these vexatious social problems. I see utter confusion on the policy front, think tanks and non-profits propagating ill-fitting programs and schools simply struggling to keep the doors open and the kids in class. If you think we aren't paying an immense price for simplistic worldviews, know that prisons are passing colleges on the State ledger. Neither the conservative nor liberal remedies battling for the last 50 years has broken the accelerating cycle of a hardening underclass. Before developing a blithe opinion, make sure you've taken steps to deeply look into the problem. I've thought of little else for decades, yet still struggle to find adequate answers.
RIP Kibrom Bairu June 08, 2012 at 08:22 PM
you guys are fucked up. this was one fatal decision he was not thinking about. I guess he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. You people are judging him off of this ONE story. You guys do not know him like I do. You dont know how kind he was, how loyal he was to his family and how much he loved his job. It makes me sick seeing how cruely you judge him off of this ONE thing. If only you knew him...
Todd Groves June 08, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I'm sorry for your loss. Kibrom clearly was loved and will be missed. Having this public discussion must be very painful for those that knew him. Judging him serves no purpose, but we have a larger issue in thinking about why so many young people are falling into these situations. More importantly, we need to discuss how youth culture leads kids to these serious acts and what can be done to change these terrible outcomes. Youth engaging in violent acts will experience harsh consequences, and few will give them sympathy. It may be up to you to give us a clear view of Kibrom, how he came to this place and how others can be kept from his path.


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