Eagle, Dean, and their son Julian. Photo: Dean family
Toby Eagle who was killed Tuesday.

When Toby Pemadorji Eagle, who was gunned down Tuesday in his backyard on Blake Street, was just an infant, a Native American visited him and gave him six eagle feathers. His mother, Ann Strong, thought the gift was an omen, so she changed her son’s last name to Eagle.

It turned out to be an apt moniker because Eagle loved the outdoors. From the time he joined the Junior Rangers at 9, Eagle spent as much time as he could outside, hiking in Tilden Park, swimming, and, later, teaching his two sons to skip rocks in the ocean or taking them to build things at Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina.

“He was such an amazing person,” said his high school girlfriend and mother of his son, Tobias, 10, who asked to be referred to only as Stacey since the killer is still at large. “He loved the outdoors. He loved swimming. For several years he was a lifeguard at Willard Pool. He loved to go on hikes. He loved building things.”

All that came to an end around 1 p.m. on March 8. Eagle had just said goodbye to a friend and was waiting for his fiancée, Tiffieny, and their 7-year-old son Julian to come home when an assailant or assailants came around the side of his house at 1634 Blake St. and shot him in the back. Eagle died in his backyard, his beloved dog Kunte barking at his side, according to Stacey. He was 30.

Family and friends are incredulous that anyone would want to kill Eagle, whom they described as a caring man who made his living as an electrician but whose other true passion was working on his 1969 black Chevy Camaro.

“He was a beautiful, caring, optimistic person who believed he could make positive change in the world,” his mother, Ann Strong, said on Tuesday from the Prince Street apartment in south Berkeley where she raised Eagle and his sister Madeline Waterfall-Quiton. “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to kill him.”

“Friendly is such an understatement to describe Toby,” said Stacey. “He was so compassionate toward anyone. He was always volunteering to help people. He was not argumentative at all. Of all the people, he wasn’t involved with anything bad so how could this happen in his own backyard?”

Berkeley police have not arrested any suspects. They have said they do not think this was a random shooting. It was the first homicide in Berkeley in 2011.

Eagle, his son Julian, his mother, and his sister Madeline at her wedding

Eagle was born March 19, 1980, in the Pink House commune in Oakland to Strong and Stanley Whittaker. He moved to Berkeley when he was a toddler and attended LeConte Elementary School, Willard Middle School, and graduated from Berkeley High in 1999.

“He was a father figure to me my whole life,” said Waterfall-Quiton, who is three years younger than her brother. “It’s pretty shocking for me.”

The family is planning to hold a service for Eagle on March 18 at the Lake Merritt Chapel. The time of the service has not been determined.

Eagle’s family and friends are just trying to figure out how to live in a world without him.

“I love you daddy,” his son Tobias wrote on Berkeleyside. “I miss you already. I had fun always playing video games with you. I love you dad.”

Update 04.01.11: Leyla Momeny, a friend of Toby Eagle’s mother, has created a way for people to donate to Eagle’s family, in particular to help raise money to go toward a college fund for Eagle’s two sons. Visit the Tobias and Julian website to make a PayPal donation. Momeny is also organizing a benefit concer at El Rio in San Francisco.

Tobias Jr. and Stacey
Eagle, his girlfriend Tiffieny, and their son Julian

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m sorry this happened to you Toby yiu were always so sweet to me♡ Rest in Paradise

  2. Our city is being torn apart by outsiders who don’t understand people. They’re sinceless and heartless. It’s very unfortunate that this happened to this young man and his family. I hope they find the person responsible and justice is served.

  3. There is an underground market for cigarettes and alcohol for the youth but nobody is getting shot over it.

  4. This community is far too naive and misinformed about the connection between marijuana sells/ production and violent crime. I worry for the innocent , who have no intention of harm, but harm finds them.

    The connection is simple $$$, and even if marijuana was legalized there will always be an underground market to youth, who have the both discretionary income and the desire for recreational use.

  5. I just found out about this and I just thought about Toby the other day this don’t even sound right they had to have the wrong person

  6. I have wonderful memories Ann and her kids stopping by my house over the years and coming to holiday gatherings. Toby was the sweet kid who the others followed and adored. I almost didn’t recognize him as an adult when he sped up to my wheelchair on his bike to say hi but when he took off his sun glasses and smiled his warm genuine smile, it lit up the day like it used to light up the room. I’m sure his kids share some of his beautiful traits and will carry them with them through life. It’s hard to comprehend how such a kind and gentle soul can be taken from this plane so abrubtly. My heart goes out to Ann and Maddy, both strong spirits, and to all of Toby’s family.

  7. this artiticle brings saddnes to my heart. my prayers go out to this family and especially his son. my family and i just suffered the same loss january 5th, my daughters father was also slain in his home . may god give your family the strength he has given mines during your time of need.

  8. It is very sad to see the family acting in this way excluding people from his service. As we know Toby knows a lot of people and are loved by many. I just want everybody to know that this in no way should reflect on his whole family because, I am toby’s family also. Toby is a person of love and compassion and I know he would not want this. Toby was the glue of this family and now he is gone.

  9. To the family, i will keep you in my prayers. i remember toby from riding bikes together to just having fun in berkeley. god was ready for his soldier. may god bless all the family.

  10. Dear Ann and Maddie I am so sorry and sad for you. Maddie, I haven’t seen you for years, but my thoughts are with you and your mom.

  11. Toby and I go way back to Malcolm X. He was always a great friend. I will always remember you and our playground fight over steal the bacon. Rest In Peace and fly like the Eagle you are.

  12. I met Toby at Berkeley High in 11th grade and he was reserved, but he was also very funny. I am deeply saddened and stunned by his sudden death. He did not deserve this ending, this is completely mind numbing. This tragedy did not need to take place. A life should never be taken for any reason, a father, a son, a boyfriend, a friend should never be taken from his loved ones. Peace and blessing to his family and loved ones. May his soul rest and peace.

  13. I work with Eagle’s mom, Ann. Our school community is so heartbroken and sad for the family. We are in an absolute state of shock and want to send lots of thoughts, love and prayers their way. We are ready to rally behind and support her during this tragic time.

  14. I knew Toby best in nursery school at 3 and 4 years old. At that age a person’s soul is most transparent and Toby was such a good one. So balanced, gentle, just plain good. These souls stay with us in life and in death and stay close. May God hold the family in the hollow of His Hand…

  15. As a fellow parent of a second-grader at Julian’s school, I’ve been heartbroken since I heard the news about Toby’s untimely and tragic passing. As one of Julian’s teachers said, it’s obvious in his amazingly sweet nature how much he’s loved and cared for by his parents. My thoughts and prayers are with Tiffieny and Julian and all of Toby’s family as they cope with this unspeakable grief, and the too-small comfort that his loving spirit will live on in his children and in the hearts of those who loved him and were loved by him. Life is too unjust for words, that his boys have to grow up without him. I just can’t stand it. I hope this terrible crime is solved so at least some peace can be found about that. I’m so sorry about your loss.

  16. Toby when I heard the news I refused to believe it was true because you just weren’t involved with things that could bring your life to an end so tragically! This just wasn’t who you were about! I am praying for your family and which is entwined with my family! Lil Ronnie is taking this to heart and he will get through it one day at a time! I will remember you until we meet again!


  17. Asking the Most High, The AlMighty, The Creator of all Things to Wrap his arms around this Family & hold them Extremely Tight~ Hold their Hearts In your Hands & Comfort the Rest of their Days~ I’m So Sorry For Your Loss~

  18. Although I haven’t spoken to Toby in many years, it seems he grew up to be an amazing man and father. We met as 3-year-olds in preschool and were schoolmates for our whole childhood. I have fond memories playing with Toby and Maddie at their house when we were young. My thoughts go out his family. Much love to you all.

  19. RIP – Tobias Pemadorji Eagle – Beautiful gentle boy, son, brother, husband. You are missed and remembered with love.
    God help the human race to STOP this insanity. God help me to seek & discern how I can be part of creating positive change.
    Peace and healing prayers to ANN & MADDIE, STACEY & TOBIAS, TIFFANY & JULIAN from Marianne (aka Jesse’s mom FROM LeConte schooldays). BLESSED BE…

  20. I knew Toby when he was in his teens. He used to come over to the house and hang out with my daughter and friends. We always called him a “gentle soul”. He was always caring and respectful and I enjoyed my conversations with him. My condolences to the family. I know how hard this is for them and how this will change their lives forever. Strength to you all..

  21. This is heart-wrenching. I remember Toby from classes together at Willard and B-High and even back then you could sense he was an old soul with nothing but faith and kindness in his heart. Thank you for article.

  22. I have and will keep praying for the family. Toby is and will always be a love one to me. Man Toby was always happy I don’t see how this happen to him. Will miss you Toby. R.I.P.

  23. my family and i can t believe toby is gone. my son told me before it was on the news. … and he couldn t believe it was true……….once, when my daughter and toby were 6 , we went to visit anns family and toby showed my daughter his bug collection… he really liked those bugs… we miss you, toby. love to ann , maddie and all ….

  24. Can’t even believe it. Tob you will be missed man. I still remember hooping on the b team in 7th grade and making the A team in the 8th grade. A good 1 is gone too early. R.I.P. Toby Eagle

  25. Thank you to Berkeley side for showing the true loving person Tobias really was! The family appreciates this so much.

  26. Toby was such a wonderful spirit. He grew up, went to school with, and was a Junior Ranger with our daughter. How he loved nature and the out of doors! How great he was as a dad. How he could bring laughter to any room, group or clearing in the forest. This violent tragedy is the sort that many of us know about but usually feel insulated from. The word “senseless” hardly begins to describe it. Words seem to no avail. Our love goes out to Ann, Maddy, and his whole family.

  27. This is so utterly heartbreaking. As a Berkeley resident following the story, my heart and condolences go out to the family during this difficult time. Thanks to Berkeleyside for keeping us informed, and to the family for sharing these touching pictures. Beautiful children. Toby looked like a very kind loving person. This is a sad loss for the whole community. This violence has to stop.

  28. omg toby GOD has called one of his angels home, you will truly be missed but never forgotten, i remember all the good times we had at berkekey high


  30. My family and my brother’s family grew up very closely with Ann, Maddy and Toby.
    I have many memories of these kids as youngsters growing into the fine adults they became.
    This is heartbreaking, these are very good folks, with tremendous good will and love.

    I am deeply sadden, and fed up with the extreme violence we live with.

  31. I recognize him, having lived in the area since 1980, and likely crossed paths along the way. His 7 year old, as well as the rest of his family, need to mourn him, not go back to school right away…I lost my father at 7, I was fully aware and not needing or wanting “normal every day activity” because the loss is so intense. Acknowledge these kids feelings and listen to them, especially if you know them. So sorry.

  32. I am so sad and sick over this. My son tells me Julian has not been back to class. This is heartbreaking. Toby was such a great guy.

  33. Great pic of the Tobes.
    The one they showed on Ch. 7 last night didn’t look like Toby to me.
    Thanks for this article, Frances. This venue is kind of helpful for we who grieve.