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Narbonne High teammates mourn a life cut short by violence

The school somberly recalls Dannie Farber Jr., who was shot to death at a restaurant in an apparent gang attack.

May 27, 2009|Raja Abdulrahim

Narbonne High School football coach Manuel Douglas gathered his varsity team Tuesday morning to talk about losing their teammate Dannie Farber Jr.

He said the last time he spoke with Farber was Thursday, when he was escorting a Michigan football scout out of the school. In the hall, Farber took his hand and pulled him, as if wanting to speak with him.

"I said, 'Hold on, I'll be back,' " Douglas recalled.

When Douglas returned a few minutes later, Farber was gone. Now, Douglas keeps thinking about how he didn't give Farber a hug, something he always did.

"That's what's bothering me," he said.

On Tuesday, the entire Harbor City school was somber as news spread about the death of Farber, 18, an All-City wide receiver who was three weeks from graduation when he was shot and killed Sunday.

Farber and a female friend were eating at Louisiana Fried Chicken in Compton about 9:40 p.m. when a man walked through a side door and approached their table, police said.

"Where you from?" asked the man, who was wearing a black hood pulled over a black baseball cap.

"What are you talking about?" Farber said as he stood up.

The man shot Farber several times and ran out the same door, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Det. Eddie Brown said. Farber tried to crawl toward the door but collapsed near the counter.

Brown said that Farber was not in a gang and that police are still looking for the gunman. A surveillance camera inside the restaurant recorded the shooting, but the gunman's face is blocked by the hood and cap, Brown said.

Police believe the gunman is a gang member because of the question he asked, Brown said.

"They're meaning 'What gang are you from?' Being 'hit up' is what the term is," he said. "There's no right answer to that. I've heard victims say, 'I'm not from anywhere' and they shoot them anyway."

Farber had planned to play football at Los Angeles Harbor College next year along with fellow wide receiver teammate Andre Hill.

"We promised each other we'd go D-1 (Division One) after Harbor," Hill, 18, said.

Farber played a big role in Narbonne's co-City Section championship last year. He caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter in a semifinal playoff game that took the team to the championship.

Sean Parker, a safety on the team, said Farber was always positive and an encouraging player.

"When people mess up he was always there to tell them it's all right," the junior said. "He would never quit on anybody because he wouldn't want you to quit on him."

At the front desk in Narbonne's main office Tuesday was a small stack of memos Principal Gerald Kobata was sending to staff members informing them of Farber's death. Beside the memos was the Los Angeles City High Schools Football Championship trophy listing the winners back to 1982. Narbonne's 2008 win has yet to be inscribed.

Friends held a candlelight vigil outside the Compton restaurant Monday night and several candles, daisies, roses and balloons remained there Tuesday. Alongside the white, yellow and black candles friends wrote messages, "RIP" and "I ♥ you." Several yellow balloons, which had mostly deflated, read, "Congrats Grad."

"That's what hurt most of us the most, because he almost made it, he was right there," Parker, 17, said. "But he didn't make it."

Douglas remembered how excited Farber had been about the football banquet that was held in early May and especially about getting his championship ring.

"The sad thing is he didn't even have it a month," Douglas said. Farber was wearing the ring when he was killed.

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raja.abdulrahim@latimes.com

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