‘Where’s my friend?’: Riders remember bicyclist who was shot and killed in DC

Paul Yepez, left, and Dzhoy Zuckerman on their last 100-mile bike ride in Delaware on July 5. (Courtesy Diego Paul Yepez)
'Where's my friend?' Diego Paul Yepez describes his emotions upon learning of his friend's death

Diego Paul Yepez had just finished a team bike ride and was about to eat lunch when he got a Facebook notification that indicated something was amiss.

There were posts about his friend 27-year-old Dzhoy Zuckerman, of D.C.

It’s typical for the friends to share their locations with each other to be safe. “It always good to have another cyclist’s location,” Yepez said, adding that he and Zuckerman were “pretty tight like that.”

But Yepez could not find where his friend was.

“It was showing as dropped the day before, like at night,” he said.

That’s when he started to look for answers. He reached out to some of his friends in the D.C. biking community, and his worst fears were confirmed. Zuckerman, who used they/them pronouns, was found shot early Saturday morning in the 6100 block of 3rd Street NW and had died.

What happened did not sink in immediately. Yepez said he had lunch, rode his bike and finished his second ride. He said he felt fine.

“And then about an hour later, that’s when it smacked the hell out of me. Just out of nowhere. It was just a rush of emotions of, ‘Where’s my friend?’ (They haven’t) messaged me. I haven’t seen a goofy Snap or anything from them,” Yepez said.

Yepez said he was in shock until it all hit at once.

There is a reward of $25,000 for information on what happened to Zuckerman, who Yepez described as an outgoing person.

“It was just a lot of love, a lot of vibrancy, a lot of things that you would just feel immediately as soon as they were around … plain joy,” Yepez said, adding that Zuckerman’s first name, which was pronounced “joy,” was fitting.

“Whenever they were around people, there would be a lot of laughter, a lot of joy, a lot of talking,” Yepez said.

Diego Paul Yepel describes his friend Dzhoy Zuckerman

Zuckerman’s friends are trying to be there for each other, but Yepez said, “It just hurts real bad.”

On Sunday, a group rode in their honor. A fundraising page has been set up in their memory; and on Thursday, there will be a memorial bike installation, with riders starting at DuPont Circle and traveling toward the place where Zuckerman was found.

“Just the vibes that they brought, I will miss,” Yepez said.

WTOP’s José Umaña contributed to this report. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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