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Old 02-14-2008, 04:12 PM   #1
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Oxnard Jr High Student Shot In The Head By Classmate

From some of the information in this article it certainly seems possible that the fact he was gay had something to do with it, that and how he dressed. Very sad indeed. The school issues aside, what was he learning at home and where did he get the gun? He made a big mistake?

By Catherine Saillant and Gregory W. Griggs, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
February 14, 2008

An Oxnard junior high student who was shot in the head by a classmate earlier this week was declared brain dead Wednesday, and the 14-year-old male suspect now faces a first-degree murder charge, authorities said.

Lawrence King, 15, was declared brain dead by two neurosurgeons about 2 p.m. at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, said Craig Stevens, senior deputy Ventura County medical examiner. King's body remains on a ventilator for possible organ donation, he said. He was shot early Tuesday in a classroom at E.O. Green Junior High School.

Authorities initially believed that King was improving. But the boy's condition worsened early Wednesday, and he was placed on a ventilator a few hours later with his family nearby, said an official, who asked not to be named.

David Keith, an Oxnard police spokesman, said the family would have no comment and asked the media to respect their privacy.

Police said the suspect, whose identity was not disclosed because of his age, shot King at least twice at the beginning of the school day and then fled the campus. The boy was apprehended by police a few blocks away and is being held in Juvenile Hall. He is scheduled to appear in court today.

Ventura County Dist. Atty. Gregory Totten said prosecutors would decide whether the case should remain in Juvenile Court after reviewing the police investigation. Under state law, prosecutors can ask the court to try the suspect as an adult, he said. "In all probability he will be charged in adult court," Totten said.

Police have not determined a motive in the slaying but said it appeared to stem from a personal dispute between King and the suspect.

Keith and Totten declined to elaborate.

But several students at the south Oxnard campus said King and his alleged assailant had a falling out stemming from King's sexual orientation.

The teenager sometimes wore feminine clothing and makeup, and proclaimed he was gay, students said.

"He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails -- the whole thing," said Michael Sweeney, 13, an eighth-grader. "That was freaking the guys out."

Student Juan Sandoval, 14, said he shared a fourth-period algebra class with the suspect, whom he described as a calm, smart student who played on the basketball team. "I didn't think he was that kind of kid," Sandoval said. "I guess you never know. He made a big mistake."

"Their lives are both destroyed now," said student Hansley Rivera, 12.

Several students said that a day before the shooting, King and several boys had some kind of altercation during the lunch period.

If the suspect targeted King because of his sexual orientation, the case could rise to the level of a hate crime, authorities said.

"We've heard that and a lot of other things," Keith said. "But I can't say what the motive is until we finish our interviews."

Totten said he could not comment on the specifics of the case until he reviewed the police investigation. But a hate-crime enhancement is something that prosecutors would consider as they move forward, he said.

"It's something we will look at," he said. "But the case is going to be reviewed as a murder involving the use of a firearm, and that carries a potential sentence of 50 years to life."

Jerry Dannenberg, the school district superintendent, said the school's staff was aware that King had butted heads with other students, including the suspect, and offered both students help.

"They had been doing a lot of counseling and a lot of work with [King] to help him deal with some of his concerns and issues," Dannenberg said. "But I can't go into specifics about what was going on."

Bullying in schools has long been a problem. But recent studies show that a student who comes "out" as gay or lesbian is far more likely to suffer abuse than others, said Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network based in New York.

A student thought to be gay was five times as likely to be threatened or injured by a weapon, a 2002 California Department of Education study said. Jennings said other studies have found similar results. His group advocates more teacher training on how to handle bullying and harassment, specifically of gay students.

"This Oxnard shooting is very upsetting but not surprising," Jennings said. "The real issue is not the kid coming out, but the kid sitting next to him. Schools must teach that we may not like one another, but we must respect one another."

Teachers and counselors at E.O. Green Junior High, meanwhile, sought to calm fears about escalating violence at the south Oxnard campus.

About a quarter of the school's 1,000 students stayed home Wednesday due to fear of reprisals, Dannenberg said.

He said the school would have extra staff and police on campus for the next few days.

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Old 02-14-2008, 04:14 PM   #2
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Too many shootings lately. I'm getting them mixed up.

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Old 02-14-2008, 04:18 PM   #3
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Old 02-15-2008, 03:13 AM   #4
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Guns don't kill people, kids kill people.
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Old 02-15-2008, 06:34 AM   #5
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Old 02-15-2008, 07:52 AM   #6
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i don't even know what to say anymore
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Old 02-15-2008, 10:47 AM   #7
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Hearing this story just breaks my heart, but it's all to familiar.
I just can't fathom how someone feels that they can decide who deserves to live or die because of their sexual choices.
I can't imagine how much hate someone has to have to be able to choose to kill because of it.
To walk up behind that young man and put a gun to his body and pull the trigger, just to prove his hate, just still seems like something so far fetched and unbelievable.

My heart goes out to his family, friends and loved ones, but more so to humankind,
because as long as there are still people being murdered and damaged over the most hateful and stupidest of reasons, we will never live in any kind of peace.

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Old 02-18-2008, 01:07 PM   #8
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Time opinion piece

Monday, Feb. 18, 2008
Prosecuting the Gay Teen Murder
By John Cloud

Lawrence King, an eighth grader who identified as gay and wore makeup and nail polish, was 15 when he was declared brain dead on Feb. 13. The day before, he had been shot in the head in an Oxnard, Calif., classroom full of students. Police have charged a sweet-faced boy called Brandon McInerney, 14, with first-degree murder and with a hate crime. According to the Los Angeles Times and KTLA, McInerney and some other boys accosted King about his sexuality on Feb. 11. Students apparently often taunted King, who didn't even have a safe home to return to after school: he was living in a shelter for abused and troubled children.

The crime, a chilling execution carried out in a typical suburban school — allegedly by a boy who probably hasn't started shaving — has shocked Oxnard and captured the attention of gay and transgender activists around the country. On Friday, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a statement saying, in part, "Our hearts go out to Lawrence's family — and to all young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids who are — right now, right this minute — being bullied and beaten in school while adults look the other way." Another group, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) called for passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, which would dramatically increase the power of the federal government to prosecute hate crimes.
But while King's short life and violent death are surpassingly sad, it's not clear that officials at E.O. Green Junior High, his school, "looked the other way." What's more, the task force is exaggerating the frequency of assaults on gay kids, the vast majority of whom make it through school safe and happy.

GLSEN itself has published a great deal of survey data showing that most gay kids aren't suffering the way King did. Fully 78% of gay and transgender kids say they feel safe at school, according to a 2005 GLSEN report. According to another GLSEN survey released the same year, only 18% of gay and transgender students said they had ever been assaulted because of their sexual orientation (only 12% — probably many of the same kids — said they had been assaulted because of the way they express their gender). And of those who had been harassed or assaulted, more than one-fifth — 22% — said the incident wasn't serious enough to report. When they did report the incidents, the response from school staffs was positive about 70% of the time. That's not enough — it should be 100% — but it belies the dire picture painted by gay groups in the wake of King's killing.

True, 66% of gay and transgender kids said they had heard homophobic remarks. But roughly the same proportion — 62% — had heard sexist remarks. Some 16% of gay and transgender kids said they had been harassed because of their sexual orientation, but 18% said they had been harassed because of "the way you look or your body size." (Teachers reported they heard sexist comments more often than homophobic ones, and they also saw more harassment based on appearance and weight than on sexual orientation.) It's difficult to imagine the teenager who has never been painfully teased about something. We forget sometimes that to be a teenager — any teenager — is to learn to cope with the turbid, inchoate bigotries of still-developing minds.

Of course, King wasn't just teased — he was put to death. But GLSEN has found that the frequency of anti-gay harassment and assault at schools has dropped steady through this decade. Fully 57% of gay and transgender students now say they are comfortable raising gay and transgender issues in class, and 71% have discussed those issues with a teacher at least once. Perhaps the most encouraging statistic: 57% of all students in public schools now say they know a kid who is gay; 20% have "a close personal friend" who is gay. Those numbers were unimaginable even 20 years ago. As I have pointed out more fully before, research from Cornell's Ritch Savin-Williams has shown that most gay teenagers are thriving and happy most of the time. They are periodically confused and depressed, but what teen isn't?

Still, it's hard to look at the photo of King's fragile little face and not want to do something. Expanding federal power to prosecute hate crimes sounds like a good idea, unless you are (as I am) opposed to the whole enterprise of criminalizing people's thoughts. Others have made this argument at greater length (here's one example), but in reading about the King tragedy I was reminded of Robert Kolker's fascinating New York magazine piece last fall about the case of Anthony Fortunato, who was sentenced to seven to 21 years in prison for his role in the death of Michael Sandy, a 29-year-old gay New Yorker. Fortunato and three friends lured Sandy from a gay chatroom to their neighborhood with the promise of sex. Instead they wanted to rob him, and they beat him up and chased him onto a parkway where he was hit by a car.

Fortunato, who was 20 at the time of the crime, was charged with a hate crime, but in court a wrinkle emerged: he said he is bisexual and had visited gay chatrooms for sex many times. As a bisexual who had regular sex with men, did Fortunato really hate gay men? So much so that he would target one for robbery and beating? Possibly. As Kolker wrote, "Lots of gay hate crimes are committed by confused, self-loathing gay people." Or was it more likely that Fortunato picked Sandy for robbery merely because he knew a convenient place on the internet where he could find guys with pot and a willingness to meet a stranger? The law is not capable of reliably discerning what Fortunato was thinking at the time (on the stand, Fortunato himself was still struggling with his feelings about sexuality, including his own). That's why we should punish crimes, not the vaporous intentions that lead to them.

We may never know the real motivations for King's murder. McInerney, the alleged killer, is being charged as an adult and, if convicted, will likely spend the rest of his childhood, and most of his adulthood, behind bars. He deserves harsh judgment. But his victim's heartbreaking life and death should be occasions for mourning, not legislation.

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