Gay Junior High Student Shot at School Declared Brain Dead

Yesterday I posted about a 15-year-old gay student, now identified as Lawrence King, who was shot by a classmate in front of at least 20 other students in a classroom at his junior high school in Oxnard, California. King has now been declared brain dead and his body remains on a respirator for organ donation.

OxnardFrom the details that have emerged so far it appears that the shooting did, in fact, have to do with the fact that King was open about his sexuality.

The L.A Times reports:

“Police have not determined a motive in the slaying but said it appeared to stem from a personal dispute between King and the suspect…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.’…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,’ [Oxnard police spokesman David ] Keith said. ‘But I can’t say what the motive is until we finish our interviews.’ [Ventura County Dist. Atty. Gregory] 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.'”

The 14-year-old suspect will be charged with first-degree murder.

Apparently King was in counseling for “some of his concerns and issues” according to the school superintendent.

This is why kids need to be taught tolerance in schools. This is why kids need to be allowed to have children’s books that teach them there are gay and lesbian people in the world, and it’s okay. This is why numbskulls like Tennessee Rep. Stacey Campfield, who wants to ban anything in schools that teaches kids about homosexuality from kindergarten to eighth grade, endanger the lives of children rather than ‘protect’ them.


Gay Student Shot at L.A.-Area Junior High School [tr]


  1. Mark says

    This is by far one of the saddest stories ever. There are just so many “pieces”! School. Teenagers. Guns. Murder. Ignorance. Hatred. And then you take a look at that Tennessee Rep – and you wonder if people like him are somewhat responsible for events like this.

    And where in the heck did the kid “learn” to hate? I’d like to see his parents hauled in for a good psych exam.

  2. Sebastian says

    My heart is crying right now, and, I am at a total loss for words as my sorrow for this young man is so strong. This is a result of the hate that has been allowed to run rampant against us for the past decade or so, by putting us on the margins of society by religious zealots and politicians for wanting equal rights.

  3. bob says

    after the shooting, the school district superintendant was reported to say that he believes the school is still one of the safest places in society. I can’t imagine how he can publically say that and get away with it when he has students bringing guns into his school to murder other students. What a missed opportunity on his part. My thoughts are with this young boy’s family.

  4. Taylor says

    This story is making me sick to my stomach. There are so many facets to this story, all of which are emphasizing the problems with this world. The homophobia is obvious. The kids killing kids is obvious. What about the gun? What would have happened if the murderer in this situation hadn’t had access to a tool designed specifically for killing people…

    I’d like to think it would have gone differently.

    Oh well, I guess I’m just an idealistic socialist from Canada.

  5. Derrick from Philly says

    This young gay guy’s assasination hits too close to home for me. According to other students, Lawrence King was experiementing with gender role presentation. He was trying to find his identity, and was brave enough to allow his need/drive to be feminine “come out”; he did this knowing that he would face intolerance and hatred. At age fifteen, you have an idea what the hateful reaction to trans people is going to be, but you are never prepared for the actual violence–never. And when that hate comes from other gay people, it is confusing for the transgender teen–it is more painful than straight people’s hatred. As you get older, you realize that most gay men are NOT your friends, and so you find your place in the gay world–separate from the majority. What makes so many gay teens hate trans teens? I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with mirrors.

    There are transgendered teenagers and children who are killed because they cannot hide themselves. You could force a male transgender teenager to attend masculinity training school for ten years; his natural drive to be feminine will still come out in the way he walks, talks, his mannerisms, his sense of self.

    Some will say, “how do we know this was a hate crime? What if there were some personal dispute between the two that ended in violence?” The motivating issue was hate. King’s (and his murderer’s)classmates told us what was the main factor in Lawrence King’s life which made his very existence an affront to too many men (straight & gay). And that hate is FOR REAL…Miss Thaing.

  6. David says

    While a certain amount of ire should be directed at the shooter, I feel that he is a victim in all of this as well. I completely agree that the parents and all his adult influences should be hauled in to have their heads examined. Two children will pay and have paid with their lives for others intolerance or the lack of teaching someone basic human decency.

  7. Banjiboi says

    I’m so shocked right now! Just yesterday it was posted that he was critical, but recovering….

    Poor baby.

    I’m now more proud than ever that he had the courage to not hide who he was, even though it ultimately led to this. And it’s a reminder of what our gay forefathers fought for during Stonewall. I can feel my “righteous gay anger” rising………..

    And damn, as unreasonable as it may sound, I’m SO hating teenagers right now!

  8. Christina says


    While I agree that intolerance and hatred can be taught by parents or a child’s role model, I think we’re forgetting the fact that the suspect is 14. That is not a child by any means. He’s a teenager, and these days you can’t tell me that we should consider a 14-year-old who had the evil determination to kill Lawrence King innocent because of poor upbringing.

  9. wreck says

    I’m with Derrick from Philly.

    Teaching kids that gays and lesbians exist is important. But, we’ve had years of this in the MSM. I’d think it’s also important to teach kids about gender and non-conformity to its culturally constructed mandates that often accompanies gayness. The “guys” were kind of “freaked out” about his feminine appearance, after all. This plus the murder of the trans woman in New York indicate to me that people just knowing about gay and lesbians is not enough; we need to radicalize our murderous gender politics.

    Last week I posted about the relationship between Cher’s outsider status and gay men, making the point that their outsider status is largely determined by their mutual violation of gender norms. I said it was unfortunate that those who identified themselves as gay men are all too often misogynists themselves. We gays are just getting a taste of the violence that is directed at those who won’t stay in their assigned gender category everyday. It’s time to make the connections and start building the alliances we need to make sure that all of our kids can go to school without being bullied, beaten, harassed, violated and/or killed.

  10. RJ says

    Taylor, are you mentioning your origins because of Canada’s gun control laws? If so, have you already forgotten the 14 year-old from Taber, Alberta who, in 1999, shot two other teens at school, killing one and seriously wounding the other? Unfortunately, access to guns in Canada is not as difficult as you might think.

    But it doesn’t even have to be a gun. Use of knives is much more common. Last month on New Year’s Day in Toronto, a 14 year-old girl was stabbed to death by a 17 year-old boy and 15 year-old girl.

  11. Taylor says


    I agree that we still have gun control issues in Canada, however compared to the United States our problems are minimal. The only firearms that are easy to acquire are rifles… and its quite difficult to hide a rifle in your school backpack.

    And while knives can still be used just as lethally, stabbing victims seem to survive much more often than gunshot victims.

    I’m not going any further into the gun control issue. My personal beliefs are just that had the killer not had a handgun at home, then this murder would not have taken place.

  12. Ernie says

    So incredibly sad that, because of the hatred towards difference in our society (and it seems that hatred–likely learned from parents–is the only logical motive in this case), a kid who was brave enough to express himself in a way that hurt no one, paid with his life. It shouldn’t be that way. And it’s why kids should be exposed to difference from the start. (Which gets ludicrously branded as being “taught” homosexuality, of course.)

    Anyone who believes that trans issues are not “our” issues, should read this. So much violence towards gay people is based on gender nonconformity. And it still boggles my mind (tho it shouldn’t, given the US gun laws) how 14 year olds can have access to firearms.

  13. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED says

    In a better world the shooter would be given the death penalty and his family, friends and cult leaders would be indicted as accomplices. What ever cult he belonged to would be shut down.

    But we’re not there yet because we don’t count. Washington politicians from both parties sent a clear message about our worth as humans when they raped ENDA and then dropped both it and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill and refused to repeal Billarys DOMA and DADT. Those bigoted politicians sent a strong message to street thugs that we don’t deserve to be treated like citizens and humans.

    In Ventura one of the thugs got the message loud and clear and murdered a young gay man. He, his family, his accomplices and his church should be treated as ruthlessly as possible and if that wrecks their lives so much the better.

    This murder points up the need for national demonstrations to demand the passage of the Matthew Shepard Gate Crimes Bill, the real ENDA (before Barney and the Republicans raped it) along with the repeal of the Clintons DOMA and DADT. We’ll need a militant massive campaign to win our agenda, because it’s obvious that the Republicans and Democrats don’t give a damn about our lives.

  14. DCN says

    As a member of a demographic often targeted with senseless violence, I would never live in a place that denied me the right to defend myself from such violence if the need arose. That so many others would—and would push to take that right away from their fellow gay men and lesbians—is a bit shocking to me.

  15. says

    Friends of Towle Road:

    Gay American Heroes Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is acting on this horrible event.

    I have personally contacted HRC, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Barney Frank and Matt Foreman of The Task Force to ask for national statements and a re-call to action for ENDA.

    Our thoughts go out to the family of Lawrence King and thank them for allowing his organs to be donated to save lives. Elke Kennedy, who is on our Board of Advisors, and Sean (who was murdered) also allowed his organs to be donated which led to saving 5 lives.

    You can go to to see the work we are doing, to read about gay murders and Sean and others, and to see the “grass roots” work we are doing to “Stop Hate in 2008″ by educating our communities about these senseless murders and honoring those who have died.

    For those of you who still don’t think “living out as you are” in America today is heroic, you are proved wrong, again, by Lawrence King’s death and 27 other identified LGBT murders in 2007.

    Please join us to build this important project and travel with it throughout the USA to educate those who otherwise may pick up a gun one day and aim it at you!!!

    Respectfully submitted,

    Chip Arndt
    Founding Board Member

  16. Dale says

    Never forget it is groups like Log Cabin Republicans who actively oppose protecting students with these anti-bullying policies. Log Cabinettes consider that “special rights” legislation. God I hate those Log Cabin scum.

  17. Born and Raised in Oxnard says

    This was a HATE CRIME against a gay teen! People need to stop blaming the victim by saying “he was troubled with issues”…. King was in foster care so OBVIOUSLY he had issues. You would too if your parents abandoned their responsibilities to take care of you. E.O. Green KNEW he was getting bullied by his peers and OBVIOUSLY they didn’t do their jobs right because now King is DEAD. This story has been reported to EVERY gay rights organization so the city of Oxnard is in for some major heat. Good luck to all of the adults who had a chance to stop this tragedy, but DIDN’T… karma will deal with you eventually!

  18. says

    Oh, my god. It keeps my heart jumping. What a pity to have such a thing happen. Really bad. We should cherish life.
    If I show you mine, will yu show me yours??? An open-mined bisexual gil…. Well, it is ok for me to send you mine recent photo on ******, but yours is needed too. Check me out here. If ok, we may exchange MSN.

  19. Daniel says

    As I read this story I reflected on my stint teaching 8th grade english in Virginia a few weeks ago. I had a flaming 13 year old in class, but he had a posse of fag hags to protect him from thugs. The goth kids were the ones who could not catch a break. “Why are you always wearing black?” , “Why do you dye your hair black like that?” , “why do you wear that eyeshadow all the time.” It was not sexual or gender related but it was scorching criticism for a Goth kid to endure. Teachers can spend their whole days saying “that’s a demerit for calling him a faggot” and “that’s a demerit for calling her a nigger” and hope the demerits add up to boot the kid from your class for a day or two. Public schools are scary as hell these days: violent and sexualized, full of drugs. It’s awful. I left that scene. I’m a teacher, not a cop.

  20. John says

    California already has some of the toughest hate crimes legislation in the nation. Since the Gwen Araujo tragedy, the Assembly and Senate has even banned the “gay panic” defense completely. You can no longer use homophobic passion as an excuse to have the charges reduced to manslaughter. I don’t know what more you can expect from lawmakers. They’ve done all that they can.

    Simply put, the threat of punishment seems to have very little affect on bigots. This is a societal problem. We’re a society of hypocrites. We train our children to become hateful little monsters. And then when they act up, we demand that the courts lock them up forever.

  21. RJ says

    @Chris, Taylor,

    It’s not that I necessarily disagree with Taylor’s opinion that more restricted access to guns would have reduced the chance of this boy being killed. However, Taylor, you’re being a bit naive about this particular situation. We don’t know where the killer got the gun. One might logically assume his home but I don’t believe that information has been released. Regardless, he brought the gun to school and shot his victim in the head, which clearly shows premeditation. I doubt a lack of a gun would have deterred him from doing something violent and deadly to the victim.

    @Chris, the 1999 stat was the one I specifically remembered about a 14 year old shooting another teen at school. Last year in Toronto, two 17 year-olds shot and killed a 15 year-old at school.

    While Canada does have much less per capita gun violence than the U.S. (presumably because of hand gun control laws), we still have way too much of it, especially in urban centres like Toronto. We have increasing gang violence, most using hand guns smuggled in from the U.S. or stolen from collectors, including drive-by shootings and innocent bystanders being killed by stray bullets.

    According to the Canada Free Press, 161 persons were shot in Toronto in 2007 and 63 were killed (though the death total may include some stabbing victims).

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