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Oxnard teen shot taken off life support

February 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Lawrence King, the 15-year-old boy shot at his junior high school, has been taken off life support and his organs have been given away. Prosecutors have charged 14-year-old Brandon David McInerney with premeditated murder and want him tried as an adult.

McInerney is jailed on $770,000 bail. A medical examiner plans an autopsy Friday.

Meantime a group is saying calling the student killing an anti-gay attack.

"It was a hate crime under 422.75A," said Maeve Fox, Deputy D.A.

When asked about the circumstances surrounding the hate crime charge prosecutors had nothing to say.

People at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center spelled it out very clearly. "A 14-year-old boy shot Lawrence dead because he was gay," said Lorri L. Jean, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.

A collation of gay and lesbian groups held a news conference Friday. They are trying to get people to discuss, something that officials refuse to address, that Lawrence King was targeted because he often wore clothes that were feminine.

"We must act immediately to address this culture of bullying, culture of violence to ensure that all students in our schools are safe to learn," said Masen Davis, Transgender Law Center.

The 15-year-old victim, Lawrence King, was declared brain dead Wednesday by two neurosurgeons and was considered clinically dead until taken off life support Friday.

Lawrence King had been living at Casa Pacifica, a center for abused and neglected children. King was under the care of the Ventura County foster care system.

Unanswered questions still echoed through the campus about the shooting.

"Could we have prevented this or was this one of those unfortunate things where all of the preparations in the world can't stop you from a crazy person?" asked Joel Lovstedt, E.O. Green Junior High School Principal.

Principal Lovstedt says that school officials are still analyzing the districts policies and the conditions that led up to the killing.

Lawrence King was identified by Oxnard police Wednesday afternoon.

Lovstedt says that King was often the subject of teasing. He had been targeted by bullies in the past. Students say the victim was often picked on for the way he dressed.

"He had met with counselors before and we've met with classmates about picking on people. We've been doing what we can about bullying," said Lovstedt.

The shooter, 14-year-old 8th-grader Brandon McInerney, may have had a personal feud with King.

Police have interviewed more than 100 people so far. As they continue to piece together the motive behind the shooting, school officials say that their goal is to make the kids and parents feels safe again.

"Sometimes it just makes me not want to come to school anymore. Yesterday kind of freaked me out. Last night I was talking to my mom and I just broke down in tears. I didn't feel very comfortable," said Sarah Kurpiewski, student.

The shooting left a lot of the students shaken. "I am kind of scared, but I know that I'll be safe here," said Tanya Carrillo, student.

"I'm scared and nervous 'cause it might happen or he might come back," said student Michelle Nguyen.

The Oxnard junior high was placed on lockdown for several hours while authorities tried to ensure that everything was safe.

The 14-year-old suspect fled the school right after the shots were fired. He was arrested a short time later by police in a nearby neighborhood. Authorities say the suspect is not a gang member.

Kids have mixed feelings following the shooting and so do many of their parents.

"It was pretty frightening," said Rachel Moraga, the mother of a student.

"It never happens twice, it never happens two days in a row, that's for sure," said Erica Hernandez, a mother of a student.

The teen was rushed to St. John's Regional Medical Center in critical condition after being shot in the head during a first-period English class.

The violence has school officials taking a closer look at what if anything they could have done to prevent this tragedy.

"When a crisis occurs you basically have to act and get the danger out of the way and keep the kids safe, that part of the plan worked," said Principal Lovstedt. "The next part that we need to look at for the future obviously is prevention."

School officials say it's normally pretty quiet and they don't have a lot of problems. In the wake of Tuesday's shooting, they are reevaluating all their security measures.

E.O. Green Junior High School is in the Hueneme School District.

The Associated Press and Eyewitness News reporters Rob Hayes and John Gregory contributed to this report.

 

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