Issue Date: 14/12/09
Former No. 44 Bulldogs outside linebacker William Robert Vatuvei, 19, was shot and killed on Jan. 3 at around 1:29 a.m. in the 27000 block of Orlando Avenue in Hayward, according to Hayward police.
Vatuvei was shot while sitting on the driver's seat in a parked car full of people.
According to Hayward police, a male passenger in an approaching car leaned out and fired multiple shots into Vatuvei's car. Vatuvei, who was struck at least once, was rushed to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley where he was pronounced dead.
All Saints Catholic Church liturgical movement coordinator Mari Kriege, who spoke to The San Matean in a phone interview, said Vatuvei's mother Fiona Vatuvei told police investigators at the hospital that "if you find the person who did this, tell them I forgive them."
"Fiona told the police that she forgive (the people who killed Vatuvei)," said Bulldog teammate Andrew Moeaki. "She is a strong woman, strong like Will."
Vatuvei, who had recently moved from Hayward, was in Hayward visiting friends and relatives.
No arrest has yet been made.
Hours after his death, Vatuvei's Bulldogs teammates woke up on Sunday morning to receive text messages about his passing. His teammates flooded Facebook with outpourings of "Rest in peace Big Willie" and "Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog!"
"Our hearts go out to '08 CSM LB (linebacker) Will Vatuvei who was killed in a senseless drive-by shooting in Hayward," wrote Bulldogs defensive coordinator Tim Tulloch in a 9:29 p.m. Facebook post later that day. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Rest in peace Will."
"Will was a pleasure to coach, a pleasure to be around," said Tulloch in a phone interview. "He had a bright future and loved everything about football; he loved the competition, he loved being on the football field. His mum and really all his family were very supportive of Will and always came to watch him play."
Vatuvei and his family are part of the close-knit Hayward Tongan community. Vatuvei attended Hayward's All Saints Catholic Church where he contributed to its Liturgical Dance Ministry and was an altar server.
"Will and his family were very active members of the church," said Kriege.
"Vatuvei and his family were a tight-knit family who did everything together; they attended church together and all of them sang (for the All Saints Choir)," said All Saints Catholic Church parish life director Stephen P. Mullin in a phone interview. "(Will's death) was sad and tragic."
Vatuvei attended Burbank Elementary School, All Saints Catholic School and Moreau Catholic High School, where he played as No. 44 on the Moreau Catholic football team. Vatuvei then went on to study at Hayward High School, where he also donned the No. 44 uniform to play the defensive and tight end position for his high school football team from 2006 to 2007 before coming to CSM in 2008.
"He was one of our brothers; we miss him and we ain't never gonna forget him," wrote Bulldog teammate Sosaia Mataele in a Facebook interview. Mataele changed his Facebook profile photo to a photo of Vatuvei upon learning of Vatuvei's passing.
Fellow Bulldog teammate Virjuan Carter posted a video of Vatuvei on Facebook, which can be viewed here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ5TKfpKue0. Vatuvei can be seen in the background rapping freestyle with Carter in the foreground. The video was taken in one of the CSM writing labs where Vatuvei, Carter and others were working on an essay assignment. "Will was an outgoing and funny guy," said Carter in a phone interview.
Bulldog teammate Josh Crigger also changed his Facebook profile photo to a photo of Vatuvei. "Will was just a great person to be around, always cracking jokes and having a fun time," wrote Crigger in a Facebook interview.
Fellow Bulldog teammate Kameron Edwards posted the same photo of Vatuvei on his Facebook wall and created his first Facebook album with the photo along with the comment: "Rest in peace bra (brother) losing u hurts."
"Will was a cool guy (who was) always funny; he had a joke and a crazy mentality when he did play for us (and I) love him to death and still will love him even though he passed," wrote Edwards in a Facebook interview.
Edwards' comment was followed by one made by Bulldog teammate Matt Pelesasa, who wrote: "Are they making this (the photo into) a shirt or sweater? Cuz (Because) I need one bruh (brother)...I can't believe u (are) gone Will...(these kind of things) don't make sense sometimes" and by Bulldog teammate Kevin Serviss, who wrote: "R.I.P. Will, you will be missed."
Friends of Vatuvei can post their condolences for him from Jan. 5 to Jan. 9 at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/insidebayarea/obituary.aspx?n=robert-william-vatuvei&pid=138162289. The guest book can be viewed at http://www.legacy.com/gb2/default.aspx?bookid=5570710745201.
Vatuvei's mother Fiona Vatuvei has expressed wishes for Vatuvei to be buried in his No. 44 Bulldog jersey.
A mass was held for Vatuvei on Monday Jan. 11 at Hayward's All Saints Catholic Church. The burial and funeral mass took place on Tuesday Jan. 12 at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward.
Details of the vigil and mass can be read here: http://media.www.sanmatean.com/media/storage/paper796/news/2009/12/14/News/Friends.And.Family.Celebrates.Life.Of.08.Linebacker-3852764.shtml
Anyone who would like to help raise money for the services can bring donations to the CSM football office by Friday Jan. 8. or call Tulloch at 650-642-1101.
Donations can also be made to Holy Angels Funeral & Cremation Center FD1456/ Holy Sepulchre Cemetery 1051 Harder Rd. Hayward, CA.