S. Howard Bransford

Slain student, a taunted outsider, was fighting hard to grow up

17-year old Desiree Davis had spent her childhood excluded and taunted for never quite fitting in. “They gave her a real hard time her whole life,” said her mother, Dru Ann Davis, in an interview at her home this weekend. A Hurricane Katrina survivor, born blind in one eye, Desiree was working to find new strength and identity in Oakland before she was killed last week in a drive-by shooting. Story by S. Howard Bransford/Oakland North.

Slain student’s family had fled New Orleans’ danger

Desiree Davis, the 17 year-old Oakland Tech student killed in a drive-by shooting Monday, had been trapped with her family in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters before they sought safety and a new life in California. Her uncle says they tried Santa Cruz for a while, but that Oakland had felt to them more like home.

Neighbors mourn shooting death of Tech student

For nearly a decade, residents living near the intersection of Gaskill and 54th Streets in Northwest Oakland enjoyed a hard-won sense of calm. They’d formed a community police group, discouraged loitering and blatant drug dealing, and a diverse group of new homeowners was infusing money into this section of town, which runs along the Emeryville border. Even the owner of the neighborhood convenience store agreed to stop selling liquor in an effort to reduce crime. Yet on Tuesday, neighbors were…

No signs of boy found in Lake Elizabeth: Search galvanizes community but reveals no clues

Volunteers from throughout the East Bay formed a prayer circle near a reedy lagoon called Lake Elizabeth in Fremont on Saturday morning as they gathered to undertake a grim task. The official goal of the search party—some 100 people strong—was to find the missing five-year-old Hassani Campbell, a Fremont resident who vanished sometime around August 10. Yet in their appeals to a higher power, they were already girding themselves for the chance of finishing empty-handed. “It is our prayer, Lord,…