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Tom Cunningham

Every now and then, an event occurs that is so tragic, it is hard to imagine. One of those events happened on Tuesday night.

According to reports, Tom Cunningham, a 38-year-old Hayward man, was returning from a 2-block trip to get ice cream with his 13-year-old daughter when one of their two dogs sniffed at a man on the sidewalk. The man did not like it and told Cunningham to get the dog away from him. His daughter pulled the dog away, but the man started to argue with Cunningham. The man got angry and shot Tom Cunningham with a handgun, in the presence of Tom’s daughter. Tom was pronounced dead after he was taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.

I first met Tom in 2007 at Dublin Elementary School in Dublin, California, where he worked as a head janitor. I also met his daughter and talked with both of them together, at Dublin Elementary. Although I did not know Tom well, I saw him numerous times over the last two years. I really did not want to believe that such a kind, funny, and good man could be killed in such a horrible way. over nothing, in the presence of his daughter. The photo in the news articles was dated – could it PLEASE be of someone else? No. Tonight I saw a recent photo of Tom on the news, and I also received confirmation from a teacher, that yes, Tom was dead.

When I saw Tom with his daughter, it was obvious how much he loved the girl, and she, him. More than that, Tom was also loved by all of the kids at Dublin Elementary. I have learned that much of the time, children have better instincts than adults. Children know when adults like them, unless adults are deliberately trying to deceive them. Kids loved Tom, and so did the adults at Dublin Elementary.

The last time that I saw Tom was the only time that I ever sensed that all was not “perfect” in his life – Tom was never negative. I focused on the positive things – the beautiful fall day – to try to help him cheer up on that day. That day was the exception – every other time that I saw Tom he was joking and laughing with kids, doing his work with a smile and serving as a positive example of the kind of good human being that an adult can be.

I would like to join with others in asking for help in bringing Tom’s killer to justice. Sadly, we cannot restore a loving father to his daughter. A description of the killer is in the news article linked above. A police sketch is now being circulated. There were witnesses to the shooting. I would ask them to remember that “all that is necessary for evil men to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

Anyone with information can call Hayward police investigators at 510-293-7034.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1000 for information that leads to an arrest. Callers may remain anonymous at 510-293-7197.

(Note added December 29, 2009: I have not read/heard whether or not Tom’s murderer has been apprehended. According to THIS article, “There is a $25,000 reward offered in this case for information that leads to an arrest.” Since the article is dated 11/27/2009, the amount/information may have changed.)

Thank you, in advance, for your help.

Tom, we will miss you. You touched more lives than you could have known.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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