As Errol Rose made preparations on Monday to bury his 15-year-old son, Christopher, who was killed last week in Brooklyn during a fight over an iPod, he received a telephone call from a stranger. The man spoke in tones that the grieving father said had momentarily quieted his anguish.
The stranger, Mr. Rose soon learned, was Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer, the company that makes the iPod.
"I didn't know who he was," Mr. Rose said yesterday. "He called me on my cellphone, at 4 maybe. Or maybe it was 5." Mr. Rose said he had stopped noticing the passage of time since his son was killed.
The men spoke for a few minutes.
Calling him by his first name, Mr. Jobs asked how Mr. Rose was doing, he said, and conveyed his sympathies. "He told me that he understood my pain," Mr. Rose said. "He told me if there is anything - anything - anything he could do, to not be afraid to call him. It really lightened me a bit."
On Saturday afternoon, Christopher set out with three of his friends in the Farragut section of East Flatbush. They planned to take the subway to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and catch a bus to Pennsylvania, where Christopher attended school, to watch a fireworks display. Soon after they left Christopher's house, as many as a dozen teenagers attacked the four boys, beat them and stole their valuables, which included an iPod, the police have said.
During the fight, one of the teenagers stabbed Christopher twice in his chest, killing him. Darran Samuel, 16, of Brooklyn, is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder and attempted robbery in connection with the attack.
Prosecutors say the fight started with a demand for the iPod, the popular digital music players that have sold in the millions since Apple introduced them in October 2001.
In recent months, city authorities have noted an rise in subway crime, driven principally by thefts of cellphones and iPods. The most frequent victims, the police said, are teenagers who are robbed after school.
In the days since Christopher's death, Mr. Rose has spoken of finding meaning in his family's misfortune, and of working to help teenagers like the ones who attacked his son.
His parents had sent Christopher to a school in Bushkill, Pa., hoping to keep him safe from exactly the kind of violence that overtook him on the streets of East Flatbush last week. Mr. Rose, a mason and a construction worker, commuted three hours every day between New York and Pennsylvania, spending long spells away from his wife, Sharon, and their other children.
Mr. Rose said that in the last few days he had taken phone calls from friends and relatives all over the world, and had received visitors including Betsy Gotbaum, the public advocate, and Councilwoman Yvette D. Clarke and her mother, Una Clarke.
One of Mr. Jobs's assistants contacted a reporter for The New York Times on Monday and asked for Mr. Rose's telephone number.
"Some people talk to you like they're something remote," Mr. Rose said. "He was so familiar. After every word, he paused, as if each word he said came from his heart."
A spokesman for Mr. Jobs declined to comment on the phone call yesterday.
Apart from the iPod, the boys who attacked Christopher and his friends stole tennis shoes and a cellphone, the police have said.
"We live in a world which is changing rapidly," Mr. Rose said. "We have the technology that can give us the iPod and everything else, but it's not all these things. We have to work on the minds and the hearts.
"We're failing these kids. We're not loving them like we're supposed to."
Matthew Sweeney contributed reporting for this article.