‘Her smile lit up the room:’ Zarrie Allen remembered as family seeks justice

Zarrie Allen (Photo credit: Salesian College Prep)

By Mike Kinney

Zarrie Allen had the brightest smile. The 18-year-old who had just finished her first year at Sacramento State smiled all the time. And she was filled to the brim with promise.

These are not descriptions from only family and friends. From classmates to teachers to neighbors and city leaders, just about everyone in the community is remembering the Salesian College Preparatory graduate’s good nature.

“She was such a sweet young woman,” Salesian Principal Mary Lou Flannery said. “Her smile always lit up a room.”

Her bright light was tragically stolen from the world on Monday, when Allen was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting while attending a memorial at a Sacramento cemetery with her friends. The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office said it doesn’t believe Allen was the intended target in the shooting, according to ABC10, a Sacramento-area news station.

Allen’s death has stunned her family, local residents and school communities in Richmond and Sacramento alike. A vigil was held for her at Mira Vista Elementary on Wednesday night. Tonight at 7 p.m., another vigil has been scheduled at site of her murder at Sacramento Memorial Lawn Cemetery.

“This cowardly act has affected and stunned the Sacramento community,” said Berry Accius from Voice of Youth, a mentoring and leadership program based in Sacramento. “It has affected the community, her family and friends.”

Terell Bostic, Zarrie’s brother-in-law, told Fox40 news station his family wants answers.

“If you know something, say something!” Bostic posted to Facebook with the hashtags #JusticeForZ #JusticeForZarrie.

Italy Godfrey, a former classmate of Allen’s at Salesian, was among about 60 people to gather in front of Helms Middle School on Wednesday night. Allen’s older sister Toenisha and younger sister Atallah, a current Salesian student, were among the attendees. Toenisha expressed appreciation for the love and support her family has received, Godfrey said.

Sanna James, also a former classmate, said vigil attendees recalled how Allen was always there for others and shared her great love of track and Afro-Haitian dancing.

A Richmond Promise Scholar, Allen was set to begin her second year at Sacramento State in a few short weeks. She had planned to pursue a nursing degree, the university’s President Robert Nelsen said in a solemn statement to his school community on Wednesday.

“Zarrie was from the Bay Area community of Richmond, where she was actively involved,” Nelson said. “We mourn the tragic and senseless loss of this vibrant and bright young woman.”

Corey Ott, a teacher and student activities director as Salesian, remembers Allen as someone who “never stopped smiling.”

“She was just a good kid,” Ott said. “She was so amazing, such a special person who was well liked by everybody. She was so goodhearted.”

In a statement, Salesian College Preparatory remembered her “for her kindness, her friendly personality, and her infectious smile.”

Allen will be remembered beyond her school communities.

“I’m heartbroken,” said Michelle Denise Milam, the City of Richmond’s Crime Prevention Manager. “This young lady came to the [Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council] Easter Egg Hunts every year. Her dad was a tireless fighter for making the neighborhood a better place.”

Her father, Anthony Charles Allen, was also well loved and highly active in the community. Anthony was credited with leading efforts to enhance the Iron Triangle neighborhood, according to the Richmond Pulse, which detailed his contributions. He passed away in 2014.

The Sacramento sheriff’s office is investigating the homicide. Detectives are asking anyone with information relating to this incident to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (916) 874-5115 or Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at (916) 443-HELP. Tip information may also be left anonymously at www.sacsheriff.com or by calling (916) 874-TIPS (8477).