by Jessica Carreras
– SAN FRANCISCO
Lawrence King, the victim of a school shooting and supposed hate-crime, was pronounced dead late last night.
King was shot in the head in his classroom at E.O. Green Junior High School on Tuesday morning. He was pronounced brain-dead Wednesday afternoon and was taken off of his ventilator late last night after having his organs removed for donation, according to senior country deputy medical examiner Craig Stevens.
Fourteen-year-old Brandon McInerney of Oxnard, Cali. has been charged with the murder of King, 15. Ventura County prosecutors are calling the shooting a premeditated hate crime and are planning to charge McInerney as an adult.
If convicted as an adult, McInerney could face 25 years to life, plus an additional maximum of 25 years for firearm use and one to three years if the shooting is found to be a hate crime. Although he is a minor, the boy turned 14 on Jan. 24, which is the legal cutoff for charging an adolescent as an adult in California, as was decided in 2002’s Proposition 21.
McInerney’s appeared in court yesterday morning, but the hearing will be continued March 21. His attorney, Brian Vogel, is currently attempting to have the case moved back into the juvenile system.
According to his classmates, King was a social outcast who would often wear makeup, jewelry and high heels to school, making him the subject of ridicule among other boys.
King was a foster child living at Casa Pacifica, which is a shelter for abused and troubled children in Camarillo. Executive Director Steven Elson declined to discuss details as to the boy’s family or circumstances. “We are all stunned and it’s just an unspeakable tragedy,” Elson told the Associated Press on behalf of Casa Pacifica. “This is a very big traumatic experience for all of us.”
Advocates for gay rights, such as the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the Transgender Law Center and Equality California, issued a press release this week voicing their joint concern over the shooting and urging for stronger protection against bullies in schools. There were reports that said that King was receiving support at school against the bullying incurred by McInerney and others. Also, California law mandates that students must be protected from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, as is detailed in the California Student Safety and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This act was further enhanced by the passage of the Safe Place to Learn Act and the CA Student Civil Rights Act, both of which went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.
However, advocates are saying that not enough was done to protect King. “With young people coming out at younger ages, out schools – especially our junior high and middle schools – need to be proactive about teaching respect for diversity based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Carolyn Laub, executive director of the GSA Network, in the press release. “The tragic death of Lawrence King is a wake-up call for our schools to better protect students from harassment at school. As a society, we can prevent this kind of violence from happening.”
This morning, representatives from the GSA Network, along with Brian Chase, senior staff attorney of Lambda Legal, TLC Executive Director Masen Davis and others gathered with youth who have been victims of anti-gay bullying and harassment at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. There, they spoke out against the murder of King and shared their own experiences and words of encouragement.