15-Year-Old Gay Student Shot Dead
Posted by shadmia on February 15, 2008
Lawrence King, 15, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green School, was pronounced brain-dead at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard about 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14th, after two examinations by neurosurgeons, said Craig Stevens, a Ventura County senior deputy medical examiner. The killer has been identified as 14-year-old Brandon David McInerney. Prosecutors filed a charge of murder with hate-crime and firearm-use enhancements against Brandon David McInerney, who will be tried as an adult.
If convicted on all three charges McInerney could be sentenced to more than 50 years in jail. He made his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon, but his hearing was continued until March 21. He was ordered held on $770,000 bail.
At around 8:30am on Tuesday, Feb. 12th, McInerney shot Lawrence King twice in the head, in front of about two dozen students who had just settled down in a computer lab to work on their English assignments. After the shooting McInerney dropped the gun at the scene and fled the school. He was picked up minutes later by a police officer not far from the school and arrested. For video clips of the scene immediately after the shooting click here and here.
Oxnard police said the shooting apparently stemmed from a personal dispute between King and the suspect. Police spokesman David Keith said investigators interviewed more than 100 people, but he declined to reveal further information on a possible motive.
Some students have said King was openly gay. Nicholas Cortez, 14, said King would come to school “wearing makeup and high heels”. Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King’s appearance was “freaking the guys out”:
“He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails — the whole thing,” Sweeney said.
13-year-old Mariah Thompson, one of King’s friends who emerged from the school with her mother, after talking to detectives was very distraught:
“He didn’t deserve it,” she said, crying. She said she was one of the wounded boy’s few friends, a confidant he trusted with stories about others making life at school miserable for him. “I would always tell him, ‘Don’t let them get to you,’ ” she said.
School administrators expressed shock as word of the shooting spread. Jerry Dannenberg, superintendent of the Hueneme School District since 2002, said he had not heard of any guns showing up in the district’s schools before Tuesday. Without commenting on a possible motive, Dannenberg stressed the importance of tolerance. “We have to be accepting of others, and when there are differences, people need to resolve them without resorting to violence,” he said.
Principal Joel Lovstedt said he was not aware of any previous fight between the victim and suspect. “If there had been a fight, it wasn’t to the level that it reached my office,” he said. Lovstedt said he had heard reports of teasing, and he had spoken to the victim about the problem. “I’ve talked to the victim myself, and I said if anyone teases you, let me know,” he said.
“This is a horrific act. If we had any inkling that something like this would have happened, we would have stopped it,” he said.
Lawrence King was living in foster care, at Casa Pacifica, a residential center for troubled and abused youths. He would take the bus to school every day. “It’s just overwhelming, unbelievable,” said Steven Elson, the facility’s administrator, of the shooting. “Our staff and kids are really trying to cope with this. We have not had a child die in a violent manner like this” Elson said, adding that Casa Pacifica plans to hold a memorial service next week.
“We’re are all stunned and it’s just an unspeakable tragedy,” Elson said. “This is a very big traumatic experience for all of us.”
Members of King’s family (they called him Larry) decided together to donate his organs. “I think that that’s what he would have wanted,” his father, Greg King said, adding that his son was headstrong, confident and sweet. He loved to sing songs by folk rock trio Crosby, Stills and Nash, and was studying the Star Spangled Banner in hopes of singing it at his brother’s baseball games. His father said he had a very gifted singing voice.
He was so good in fact, that one of Greg King’s friends — who was unaware of the family’s tragedy — called on Wednesday to say King should try to get his son to try out for American Idol.
Larry’s mother, Dawn King, said Larry would often remind her to take her medicines to control her diabetes. Larry also had an affinity for animals. He loved butterflies and built a special connection with a stray dog he named Jasmine, his father said. “She’d fetch for Larry, but anyone else that tried to come near her she’d run.” He also enjoyed using licorice sticks to catch crawdads at Bubbling Springs Park in Port Hueneme, where his family would go for baseball games.