ANCHORAGE - He was a man with an unusual name. His friend Kami Karp explained, "It's T-R-E-L." She spelled out the letters, but his friends call him "T."
Friends said his parents saw those letters spelled out on a license plate before he was born.
A little more than 21 years after T.R.E.L. Zawko came in to the world, he died. Anchorage police said his roommates found him dead at their Crescent Street House in Midtown last week.
Detectives are investigating his death as a homicide.
Police are keeping quiet about the investigation, but Zawko's friends didn't want to focus on how he died when they gathered on Wednesday afternoon, but how he lived.
His friend Conner Wrede said he was a "free spirit."
Though they were sad, it was hard for them to tell a story about Zawko without smiling. His roommate Kami Karp called him her "best friend. And I'm not the only one to say that. That kid was everyone's best friend."
They joked about his sarcasm and his ego, but clearly he cared about his friends. Tyler Burton said they became better friends after high school, even though he went out of state for college. Zawko would call him regularly. He said he would always offer to pick him before saying, "can't wait to see you man. I love you."
He worked as a cook at the Bear Tooth and Moose's Tooth but had recently decided to learn to be an electrician.
When he wasn't working, he played music and painted. Karp held up the paintings he created, all in bright colors. One has a fish in a corner and a hook in the distance. Karp pointed at the fish – "He's looking into the distance at his morbid future of all the other hooks. I don't know what that is."
When the laughter dies down, the dozen or so friends look sad, and they look tired, and some of them cry.