Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lawrence King Murder: A Deadly Clash of Emotions Before Oxnard Shooting

Los Angeles Times writes
For teens living in a shelter for abused and neglected children, school can provide a daily dose of normalcy, a place to fit in, a chance to be just another kid. It didn't turn out that way for Lawrence King.

According to the few students who befriended him, Larry, 15 years old and openly gay, found no refuge from his tormentors at E.O. Green Junior High School. Not in the classroom, the quad, the cafeteria. Not from the day he enrolled at the Oxnard school until the moment he was shot to death in a computer lab, just after Larry's usual morning van ride from the shelter a town away.

The 14-year-old accused of killing him, Brandon McInerney, had his own troubled home life when he was younger, with his parents accusing each other of drug addiction and physical assaults, court records show. The year before Brandon was born, his father allegedly shot the boy's mother in the arm, shattering her elbow, the records say. Now, as the Feb. 12 killing continues to draw attention from around the world, students, parents and others wonder if red flags in the boys' circumstances and backgrounds had been missed and whether more could have been done to avert the tragedy. "The question needs to be answered," said Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn, whose district includes E.O. Green. "It really bothers me a lot."

The anti-gay taunts and slurs that Larry endured from his male peers apparently had been constant, as routine for him as math lessons and recess bells. The stinging words were isolating. As grieving friend Melissa Reza, 15, put it, Larry lived much of his life "toward the side. . . . He was always toward the side." She and others recall that the name-calling began long before he told his small circle of confidants that he was gay, before problems at home made him a ward of the court, and before he summoned the courage to further assert his sexual orientation by wearing makeup and girl's boots with his school uniform. His friends say the verbal cruelty persisted for months, and grew worse after the slightly built Larry pushed back by "flirting" with some of his mockers. One of them was Brandon, who seethed over it, the friends say. MORE

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'Lawrence King was on a collision course with a culture that found him repulsive'

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