Daniel John Zeitz never attended the elite King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta.
But his mother, Patty Zeitz, was the first faculty member hired at the 14-year-old school, and that means something.
“On Saturday, I got a phone call saying that Danny was killed,” said David Rhodes, the school’s headmaster for the past nine years. “King’s Ridge is a family and we wanted to convey to (Patty Zeitz) that we are here for them. We are a Christian community that supports our faculty and families in a time of need.”
At 1 p.m. Saturday, King’s Ridge will open its doors to host a private memorial service for Daniel Zeitz, who was killed this past Friday when he tried to sell his PlayStation through Craigslist. Two people, including, a 16-year-old girl, are in custody in connection with the killing.
Nathaniel Vivian, 20, is being held in the Fulton County Jail without bond for his part in the slaying. The 16-year-old, whose name has not been released, is being held at the Metro Regional Detention Center in Atlanta. On Tuesday, the Fulton County district attorney said he plans to charge her as an adult. A hearing is set for Sept. 23 to make it official.
Neither Patty Zeitz nor anyone else in her family has responded to media requests, although she allowed her school to speak on her behalf.
Rhodes said he never actually met the 28-year-old Daniel Zeitz, but everyone at the small school of 771 students felt like they knew him.
“Patty’s three sons were an enormous bright spot in her life,” Rhodes said. “Whenever she talked about her sons, her eyes lit up.”
Rhodes said students have been sending the Zeitz family cards and letters, and members of the faculty and board of trustees have visited with her. The football team will wear “DZ” decals on their helmets this week.
Because he was an avid gamer, the Daniel Zeitz Memorial Scholarship for Virtual Design has been set up for graduating seniors pursuing that field. The school has also raised $6,500 to help with the family's funeral costs.
“Patty has been here since the beginning,” Rhodes said. “She teaches middle school art, so every student has had her at one point. She is a beloved member of the faculty.”
Another fund, set up by friends of Zeitz, has raised more than $17,600.
According to Sandy Springs police, Daniel Zeitz went to the Legends of Dunwoody Apartments last Friday at about 9:30 p.m. to sell a PS4 system that he advertised on Craigslist. He met with Vivian and the 16-year-old girl, who tried to rob him of the device.
During the struggle, police say the girl — who brought along her 16-month-old daughter — fired a shot from a .25-caliber handgun. The bullet ripped through Vivian’s hand and hit Daniel Zeitz in the chest, killing him.
When the couple went to Northside Hospital for treatment of Vivian’s wound, they initially told Brookhaven Police detectives Lonnie Napier and Camella Patterson that they had been robbery victims. Napier said it was apparent that the pair was “trying to conceal facts.”
“She was nervous,” said Patterson.
Upon further questioning by police, Vivian and the girl revealed their involvement in the shooting, but at the time seemed unsure whether Zeitz had actually been hit by the bullet, police said. The girl’s family now has custody of her 16-month-old daughter, who police said is not Vivian’s child.
“Nobody knows why this happened. The only individual who knows is God,” Rhodes said about the involvement of a 16-year-old girl and baby. “I don’t know the reasons or circumstances. But it breaks my heart to know that Danny is no longer here.”
Zeitz’s death was at least the second slaying related to a Craigslist transaction within the last year. In November, Jevon Nathan Freeman, 25, was shot by two Riverdale teenagers in Clayton County as he was trying to sell them his phone, which he had listed on Craigslist.
So many robberies around the country have been reported by people who have tried to complete sales through the online service that police and sheriff departments in South Florida and Wisconsin have set up spaces in and around police precincts for people who want to complete a Craigslist transaction.
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution