OAKLAND -- Dinyal New will always remember her last conversation with her 13-year-old son, Lee Weathersby III.
It was New Year's Eve and he was on his way home from the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland on International Boulevard, where he had been a member since he was 6 years old.
"He called me at 5:47 p.m. and said he wanted to come home," his 41-year-old mother said Thursday, standing on the front porch of her East Oakland home, her eyes heavy and wet. "He said he was going to stop at a food truck for a burrito and that he would be on his way."
As she always did, she told her son she loved him in Spanish. Her son responded, "Yeah, mom. I know, I know. I love you too."
They were the last words the Oakland mother would hear from Lee. Less than four hours later, apparently after stopping somewhere else, he was shot several times at 104th Avenue and Walnut Street, a few blocks from his home. He died at 4:42 a.m. New Year's Day at Highland Hospital, becoming Oakland's first homicide of 2014.
At a vigil Thursday evening at the site of the shooting, about 100 friends and relatives gathered to remember the boy, who was described as quiet and loyal.
"For the past six to nine months I had taken Lee to church. We'd pack up my Suburban and I'd take about 12 of them to church," said friend Nicole Rodriguez of Oakland. "Lee was also so faithful. I am going to miss him so much. I am blessed to have known him."
The vigil brought out not only those who knew the boy personally, but also non-violence activists, including Arthur Renowitzky, a 26-year-old San Lorenzo man who founded the Life Goes On nonprofit organization after he was shot and paralyzed in San Francisco in 2007. Coincidentally, Renowitzky, who speaks publicly around the state several times a week, had given a talk at the boy's school about two months ago.
"(The students) were very receptive," Renowitzky said about the talk. "(Gun violence) is so real for them. They see this all the time." By a show of hands, Renowitzky said every one of the 30 students indicated he or she knew someone who had been shot or killed.
And the violence in Oakland was evident to the boy's mother as well. She said she heard the shots that killed her boy but didn't think twice about the loud bangs because gunfire in Oakland on New Year's Eve is so common.
"I mean, he's 13, he should never have to deal with anything like this,'' she said. Her son was a funny, fast-talking boy, she added. "This had to be a case of mistaken identity. Those bullets had to be intended for someone else."
Lee, a 6-footer with a passion for basketball and football, was an eighth-grader at Alliance Academy Middle School, which is on the campus of Elmhurst Middle School. He played both sports at the Boys & Girls Club, was an avid San Francisco 49ers fan and also loved video games and wrestling.
School is not in session this week but several classmates, including three boys who played on the basketball team with the slain teen, stopped by a street memorial Thursday. One friend wrote: "Your smile brightened up the whole school" on a sign posted with candles, flowers, teddy bears and balloons.
Officer Jason Andersen, the lead investigator, said police don't have a motive for the killing and no arrests have been made. His mother said she believes her son had walked about one mile ¿from the club with two friends when he was gunned down, but police have not confirmed that information.
Family, including Lee's aunt, Lorraine Wade, described the boy as a peacemaker.
"He never liked people to argue," said Wade, 47, as she stood near Lee's mother on Thursday. "He would always step in to keep the peace and be a calm in the storm. He would have done great things in life. It's a true loss for the world."
Calvester Stanley, president of the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland, said staff members called Lee a "great kid" who was well-liked. He said the organization plans to offer grief counseling for staff and members and will help the family in any way it can.
Stanley, who has worked with Oakland children for decades, said Lee's death was "disheartening. Even as young as 13, kids are on the front line and in harm's way."
In addition to his mother, Lee is survived by his father Lee Weathersby Jr.; an older brother; his grandmother Gladys McCoy, all of Oakland.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $10,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the killer. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers of 510-777-8572.