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Slain Oxnard teen remembered in vigils

February 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
An 8th-grader shot to death by a classmate at his Oxnard junior high school was remembered in vigils across the country Friday. Lawrence King, 15, was shot and killed at E. O. Green Junior High School two years ago Friday.

Prosecutors say the murder of Lawrence King was a hate crime and that he was killed by his fellow classmate at his middle school in Oxnard because of his sexual orientation.

Many believe his murder illustrated the violence that's directed against many gay students nationwide.

"Really, the event is about remember people that have been silenced in our community," sad Marilee Rust, a CSU Channel Islands student.

Rust helped organize a memorial in honor of King Friday, the second anniversary of his murder.

"You have people that are coming out younger. You still have those younger people that don't have rational minds with parents that are like, 'Gay people are bad,'" said Rust.

For some of the 35 people who attended Friday's memorial, the event had added significance, since the murder happened just 10 miles away from campus.

"He went to group with a bunch of us, and his tragedy is something that I feel we need to keep in our minds and hearts," said Molly Wingland, an Oxnard resident.

There were other memorials in honor of King planned in communities across the country. The one in downtown Los Angeles attracted more than two dozen people to City Hall.

"It's just a horrifying thing to even think about that somebody in somebody's own school could have the ability to bring a gun and shoot somebody in the back of the head," said another memorial organizer Giuliana Pebenito.

"He was in middle school. It's that age. It's terrifying," said J.T. Mendoza, a Los Angeles resident.

The 15-year-old King was reportedly openly gay. He was fatally shot at E.O. Green Middle School on Feb.12, 2008. Prosecutors say his classmate, Brandon McInerney was angry that King had asked him to be his valentine.

Ventura County prosecutors say Brandon McInerney, who was 14 at the time, shot and killed King because he told classmates he was gay.

McInerney, who was 14 at the time, is being tried as an adult. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and a hate crime allegation. He's scheduled to stand trial in May.