Local musician robbed of laptop, dragged to death in Oakland

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Friends and fellow musicians are mourning a man who was killed trying to retrieve his stolen laptop.

40-year old David Deporis was dragged by a car down a residential Oakland street in Wednesday afternoon.

Those who knew him say he was very generous, and would give strangers money if he had it.

But sitting at a Telegraph Avenue cafe, his laptop was one possession he wouldn't let go, and he chased after the thief who snatched it.

"It might have just been something in the moment, where something is taken from you and you respond," friend and collaborator Wiley Rogers told KTVU.

Rogers and other musicians have been touring with Deporis this summer in a retrofitted school bus as part of a music collective.   

Deporis had been honing his original music, and was hoping to release an album soon.

Friends wonder if he was desperate to recover his laptop because of all the music saved on it. 

"He had an interesting mind, a great artist and musician, very creative, so it's been pretty shocking to this small community," said Rogers.

The incident was also shocking for the people who live just off 42nd Street in the Temescal neighborhood.

"Is our society this brutal?" mused witness Theresa O'Connor, who ran from her house when she heard the suspect's car speeding.

Rich Street, where Deporis was dragged, is one-way and narrow, with speed-bumps. 

"So we heard the car speeding up," described O'Connor, "and we heard some yelling, some screaming, and we heard it hit a few things."

The thief sideswiped a few parked cars, perhaps swerving to shake Deporis off.

When witnesses ran outside, they saw him laying in the street, unconscious. 

"Totally motionless, I didn't see any motion at all," said O'Connor sadly, "and somebody got him a blanket."
Deporis was pronounced dead at the hospital from massive trauma.

"Property can be replaced, but a life can't, " Oakland Police Officer Marco Marquez told KTVU.

Running up to the thief in his car, and trying to intervene, was a fatal mistake, police say.

Deporis was dragged more than five hundred feet.   

"If anyone is a victim of a crime, please report it, and allow us to help in that instance, we want everybody to be safe," cautioned Officer Marquez. 

Thursday evening, friends were gathered at the bus, grieving together and determined to compile Deporis' house shows and songs into an anthology.

"Dave plays the guitar with one hand, " enthused friend and collaborator Pancho Morris, "and he's like a prophet, a third-eye wanderer, half the time bonkers, bananas!"

Deporis was inventive, emotional, and even a bit fanatical about his craft, friends say.

Onstage, he showed a serious, soulful side.

"Dave was a mystic, a spiritual dude, and really special," added Morris.

"There's just nothing quite like him. He sings the highest note you've every heard," smiled Rogers.

Memorial services are planned for Dave Deporis next month in Oakland, and in New York, where he split his time.

Oakland police are silent about how many suspects, and what kind of car they are looking for, but want to hear from any witnesses who haven't stepped forward. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police Department's homicide section at (510) 238-3821 or a tip line at (510) 238-7950.

Deporis' friends said on a posting on Facebook that a "Celebration of Life" for him will be held at Sol Gate Studios at 3015 Myrtle St. in Oakland on Sept. 9.

The friends said that location is "the artistic space and community he loved so much -- where he spent the last morning of his life."

Deporis' friends said, "We ask everyone who knew him to share memories, images, videos and music...It is our duty, as friends and family, to keep his philosophy, creations, and memory alive."

Friends and mourners are already placing pictures of Deporis and small memorials at the cafe near Rich Street.