Local News

Slain man remembered by sisters as seeing the best in others

Posted January 16, 2014
Updated March 14

Andrew "A.J." Tongate (Courtesy of Tongate family)

— The sister of a man killed at his Raleigh apartment over the weekend remembered her brother Thursday as a goofy man with an infectious smile and a kind and generous heart.

"He just helped people and saw the best in people," Allison Tongate said of Andrew Jay "A.J." Tongate, who was found stabbed at his home on Lake Lynn Drive Saturday.

Tongate's boyfriend, Gavin Joseph Zacherl, 31, was arrested Monday and charged with murder in the case.

Authorities haven't released a possible motive for the crime, and Allison Tongate did not want to talk about the couple's relationship or speculate about what might have led to her brother's death.

Instead, she said, she wanted others to know that her brother was known for helping people, saw the best in them and wanted to make a difference in people's lives.

"If I did speak to his relationship, I think that that's what happened," Allison Tongate said. "He saw someone in need and tried to help him and that put him in a vulnerable position."

A.J. Tongate, 28, was from Albuquerque, N.M., where he volunteered with a suicide prevention hotline as well as worked with refugee immigrants in the area.

The youngest of four children, he moved to Raleigh in 2010.

"He came here to be a man and make a life for himself. He loved his job, and he had his five-year plan and 10-year plan," Allison Tongate said. "He had really good friends and he was close with his co-workers. He had a good life."

"Nobody thought this would happen to A.J.," she added.


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  • changedmyname Jan 17, 2014

    Prayers to the Family.
    It's time to STOP Domestic violence now!

  • Bill of Rights Jan 17, 2014

    30 years to life? Hopefully he gets a needle in his arm.

  • monami Jan 17, 2014

    To AJ's family, so sorry for your loss...

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 17, 2014

    Some people can't be helped. Hopefully that hippie does 30 years to life.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Jan 17, 2014

    Just. Wow!