Community member, deacon Christian Sheppard dies at 24

Christian Sheppard, a lifelong Berkeley resident, died Oct. 6 at 24. He will be remembered as a friend of the community, a lover of sports and music, and a devoted father to his two young daughters.

Sheppard was fatally shot on the 1600 block of Russell Street in South Berkeley and was the victim of the city’s first recorded homicide of this year.

His sense of humor and drive to better himself brought more than 100 friends, family and community members to a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening.

Sheppard was considered by many a leader of the community. At 16, he was named a deacon of True Faith Baptist Church in Oakland. Pastor James A. Long, Jr., who had known Sheppard since his childhood, said his natural tendency toward leadership made him stand out during his appointment.

“He was a natural leader, real outgoing, upbeat, made people laugh and was a friend to all people,” Long said.

Although Sheppard faced challenges in life, Long noted, he worked to turn his life around. Sheppard was a devoted father of two young girls — 5-year-old Lyric and 5-month-old Haylee — and his love for his daughters and religion inspired a change within him as he strived to improve himself in order to be the role model that they deserved.

“Christian believed in God, and he believed even … if you make mistakes, you can go to God and he’ll forgive you,” said Wanda Hunter, Sheppard’s mother. “His love for God was real.”

Sheppard had been working as a delivery man in order to support his two daughters and fiancee Taniya Richardson, and, according to Long, was up for promotion. Richardson said he was a great provider for his family and did everything he could to help.

He was remembered as a leader at Berkeley High School and for giving a speech at his graduation. He received a scholarship through the African American studies department at BHS, which he used to attend California State University, Northridge.

Known by his friends and family for his love for sports, Sheppard played football all four years that he attended BHS. In addition, he had a passion for music. He rapped and sang, and according to Hunter, he was hoping to pursue his music further.

Sheppard will be remembered for the positivity he brought into his friends’ and family members’ lives. His smile lifted up everyone he knew when they were having a bad day, said Hazel Conner, his godmother.

“I’m very much at peace, I miss him, but I am so thankful to God that he is in a better place,” Hunter said.

Sheppard’s family has started a GoFundMe page to provide for Sheppard’s daughters and to cover the funeral costs.

Contact Pressly Pratt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @prezzliray.