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Lawrence "Larry" King, victim of the E.O. Green School shooting

The E.O. Green School shooting refers to the February 12, 2008, killing of Lawrence "Larry" Fobes King, a 15-year-old student at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, United States. He was shot twice by fellow student, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, and was kept on life support until he died two days later.

McInerney has been charged as an adult with premeditated murder with enhancements of discharge of a firearm and a hate crime. He is being held in lieu of US$770,000 bail, and faces a minimum sentence of 53 years imprisonment to a maximum life sentence.[1]

Newsweek has described the shooting as "the most prominent gay-bias crime since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard", bringing attention to issues of gun violence as well as gender expression and sexual identity of teenagers.[2][3]



Lawrence King

Lawrence Fobes "Larry" King was born on January 13, 1993[4] at the Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, California. King was adopted at age two by Gregory and Dawn King. His biological father had abandoned his wife, and his mother was a drug addict who failed to care for her son properly.[2] King was prescribed medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and according to Gregory King, Larry had been diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, a condition in which a child fails to develop relationships with his or her caregivers. He was also forced to repeat the first grade of schooling. By the third grade, King began to be bullied by his fellow students due to his effeminacy and openness about being gay, having come out at ten years old.[2]

At the age of twelve, King was placed on probation for theft and vandalism. In November 2007, he was removed from his adoptive home and placed in a group home and treatment center named Casa Pacifica[5] after he alleged that his adoptive father was physically abusing him, a charge Gregory King denied.[2]

The bullying continued when King transferred to E.O. Green Junior High School in the seventh grade, and intensified when he began attending school wearing women's accessories and clothing, high heels and makeup in January 2008. King's younger brother Rocky also suffered bullying because of Larry's appearance.[2] The school could not legally stop King from dressing as such because of a California hate crime law that prevents gender discrimination, although teachers at the school thought that his clothing was clearly in violation of school code, which prevents students from wearing clothing considered distracting.[2] The school issued a formal notice to every teacher on January 29, 2008 via email. Written by eighth-grade assistant principal Sue Parsons, it read, in part:

We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality by wearing make-up. It is his right to do so. Some kids are finding it amusing, others are bothered by it. As long as it does not cause classroom disruptions he is within his rights. We are asking that you talk to your students about being civil and non-judgmental. They don't have to like it but they need to give him his space. We are also asking you to watch for possible problems. If you wish to talk further about it please see me or Joy Epstein.[2]

Joy Epstein was one of the school's assistant principals, and also openly lesbian. Some people, including King's father, accused Epstein of encouraging Larry's flamboyance as part of her "political agenda."[2] King also taunted boys in the halls, saying "I know you want me."[2] However, prosecuting attorneys filed court documents that stated King was not sexually harassing other students in the weeks before the shooting. McInerney and King had been in several verbal altercations described as "acrimonious" by the prosecutor.[6]

Brandon McInerney

Brandon David McInerney was born on January 24, 1994 in Ventura, California. His mother Kendra had a criminal history and was addicted to methamphetamine.[2][4] In 1993, Kendra accused her husband William of shooting her in the arm with a .45-caliber pistol.[7] In another incident, William McInerney choked his wife almost to unconsciousness after she accused him of stealing ADHD medication from her older son.[8] He pleaded no contest and served ten days in jail and 36 months probation on a charge of domestic violence. Between August 2000 and February 2001, William McInerney had contacted Child Protective Services at least five times about concerns of his son living with his mother.[4] In 2001, he filed a restraining order against Kendra, and in 2004, Brandon was placed in the custody of his father, as his mother had entered a drug rehabilitation program.[2]

McInerney attempted to recruit other students to assault King, but when no one expressed interest, McInerney then decided to kill him himself. The day before the shooting, McInerney, who had experience target shooting with the gun used in the crime, told one of King's friends, "Say goodbye to your friend Larry because you're never going to see him again".[6]

The shooting

On the morning of February 12, 2008, McInerney was witnessed repeatedly looking at King during a class in a computer laboratory. At approximately 8:15 a.m local time, McInerney shot King twice in the head using a .22-caliber revolver he withdrew from his backpack.[9][10] Following the shooting, McInerney tossed the handgun on the floor and left the classroom. He was apprehended by police about seven minutes later and five blocks away from the school campus.[2][8]

King was transported to St. John's Regional Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition. He was declared brain dead on February 13 but was kept on life support for two days so that his organs could be donated.[11][12]

Since McInerney has refused to speak to investigators, the motive for the shooting remains unclear.[13] According to Police Chief John Crombach, "It's pretty clear our suspect was focused on his victim and what he planned to do".[14] In July 2008, Newsweek reported that a day or two before the shooting King asked McInerney to be his Valentine in front of McInerney's friends. When McInerney endured teasing because of the incident, he told one of King's friends to say goodbye "because she would never see [King] again".[2]


Vigils and marches were organized across the United States following King's death.[15] Sympathies for King have been expressed by numerous people including Judy Shepard,[16] Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese,[17] Senator Hillary Clinton and television host Ellen DeGeneres.[18] A thousand students in the Hueneme School District, where E.O. Green is located, marched to pay tribute to King on February 16, 2008, four days after the shooting.[15]

A local vigil in Ventura, California was organized one year after King's death.[5] The Day of Silence for 2008, which is intended to protest LGBT harassment and occurred on April 25, was specially dedicated to King.[19] King's father, unconvinced his adoptive son was gay, believes that his son sexually harassed McInerney, and has expressed concern that his son is being made a poster child for gay rights issues.[2]

A new diversity education bill was introduced on behalf of King by California Assemblyperson Mike Eng, saying, "We need to teach young people that there's a curriculum called tolerance education that should be in every school. We should teach young people that diversity is not something to be assaulted, but diversity is something that needs to be embraced because diversity makes California the great state that it is." The bill would require mandatory classes on diversity and tolerance in California school districts.[20]

Teachers also showed sympathy for McInerney. "We failed Brandon," a teacher said. "We didn't know the bullying was coming from the other side—Larry was pushing as hard as he could, because he liked the attention."[2]

Criticism of the school

In August 2008, King's family filed a claim against E.O. Green Junior High School at Ventura County Superior Court, alleging that the school's allowing King to wear makeup and feminine clothing was a factor leading to his death.[21] According to the California Attorney General's Office, however, the school could not legally have stopped King from wearing girls' clothes because state law prevents gender discrimination.[2]

According to a Newsweek article published on July 19, 2008, some teachers at E.O. Green also allege that assistant principal Joy Epstein was "encouraging King's flamboyance to help further an 'agenda'".[2] When Epstein was later promoted to principal at another local public school, King's father described it as a "slap in the face of my family". The superintendent, Jerry Dannenberg, stated that the promotion was given because "she was the most qualified person for the new principal job".[2]


In February 2008, McInerney's lawyer, William Quest, was considering a change of venue.[22] On July 24, 2008, Judge Douglas Daily of the Ventura County Superior Court ruled that McInerney would stand trial as an adult,[23] with the decision being appealed.[24]

On August 7, 2008, in the same court, McInerney pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and a hate crime. A preliminary hearing was set for September 23, 2008, which had been rescheduled for October 14, 2008.[24][25]

On September 23, 2008, the court appointed Willard Wiksell, a lawyer from Ventura, guardian ad litem for McInerney. Previously, McInerney's family took steps to fire his lawyer, William Quest, of the Public Defenders Office and hire the United Defense Group, a criminal defense law firm from Los Angeles. However, the Public Defenders Office filed a petition stating that the United Defense Group might not have McInerney's best interests in mind.[25]

On October 14, 2008, after the court received a report from the appointed guardian ad litem, and the court determined that the defendant had not been coerced into changing representation and knew what he was doing, the Ventura County Superior Court allowed McInerney to fire his Public Defender, William Quest, and the Public Defenders Office, and hire the United Defense Group together with attorney Robyn Bramson as his attorneys.[26][27] The court also denied a motion to gag the defendant's former representatives from the Public Defenders Office from speaking about the case, especially to the media.[26]

On December 8, 2008, Ventura County Superior Court ruled that McInerney, after being evaluated by a psychiatrist and a psychologist, was competent to stand trial. That same day, Scott S. Wippert, of the United Defense Group, filed a legal motion for discovery, asking the court to order the district attorney to provide documents to uncover whether prosecutors exercised discretion in sending McInerney's case to the adult court system.[28] On December 29, 2008, Judge Rebecca Riley denied the motion, stating that there was no evidence of abuse of discretion in transferring McInerney from juvenile to adult court.[29]

On January 26, 2009, the preliminary hearing was postponed until March 17,[30] to give McInerney's lawyers time to appeal Judge Riley's rejection of the December motion for discovery.[29] On March 18, 2009, the hearing was once again postponed, when William McInerney, the father of Brandon, was found dead in his living room in the Silver Strand area near Oxnard after he sustained an accidental head injury from a fall.[31] Brandon McInerney was granted Judge Riley's permission to leave the juvenile detention facility and attend his father's funeral.[32]

On August 27, 2009, at his arraignment in Ventura County Superior Court, McInerney pleaded not guilty to all charges. The judge, Bruce Young, set the pretrial hearing date for October 23, 2009, and a trial start date for December 1, 2009.[33]

See also


  1. ^ Saillant, Catherine; Amanda Covarrubias (2008-02-15). "Oxnard school shooting called a hate crime". Los Angeles Times.,0,7663055.story. Retrieved 2008-08-24.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Setoodeh, Ramin (2008-07-19). "Young, Gay and Murdered". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  3. ^ "Youth Now". In The Life. June 2009. No. 6, season 17; Jillian Buckley editor;
  4. ^ a b c Pringle, Paul, Salliant, Catherine (March 8, 2008). "A deadly clash of emotions before Oxnard shooting." Los Angeles Times p. A1.
  5. ^ a b Cathcart, Rebecca (February 23, 2008). "Boy's Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town". The New York Times. p. 11.  
  6. ^ a b Saillant, Catherine (February 12, 2009). "Details in gay student's slaying revealed: Ventura County prosecutors say the defendant, then 14, made death threats against Lawrence King and had experience with guns. Memorials are planned for today, the first anniversary of King’s death." Los Angeles Times, p. 3.
  7. ^ Young, Gay, and Murdered, p.3, Newsweek
  8. ^ a b Saillant, Catherine, Griggs, Gregory (February 14, 2008). "Student is declared brain dead; Lawrence King, 15, was shot and wounded at an Oxnard campus Tuesday. A classmate faces murder charge." Los Angeles Times. pg. B1.
  9. ^ "" remembers Lawrence "Larry" King - A Young Hero"". Miami Herald. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  10. ^ "Details in gay student's slaying are revealed in prosecution brief". Los Angeles Times. 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-02-12.  
  11. ^ "Boy, 15, declared brain dead after school shooting," CNN
  12. ^ "Organs harvested from Oxnard school shooting victim" San Jose Mercury News, February 15, 2008
  13. ^ "Suspected school shooter's childhood marred by violence". Ventura County Star. 2008-02-24. Retrieved 2008-07-25.  
  14. ^ Saillant, Catherine (February 20, 2008). "Shooting sparks call for changes; At a meeting on an Oxnard campus, parents ask why the slaying of a student in a classroom wasn't prevented", Los Angeles Times. p. B1.
  15. ^ a b Saillant, Catherine (February 17, 2008). "1,000 gather in tribute to slain Oxnard teen; A march organized by students focuses on tolerance in the wake of the fatal shooting of an openly gay boy." Los Angeles Times, pB3.
  16. ^ Wilson, Craig (March 11, 2008). "Mom's mission: Stop hate crime; Matthew Shepard Foundation toils to keep momentum", USA Today, p. 11B.
  17. ^ "Slaying of Gay Oxnard Student Spurs Diversity Education Bill", Gay Wired, February 19, 2008
  18. ^ Ellen DeGeneres: The Hate Must Stop - TV News, Ellen DeGeneres :
  19. ^ "Students from Record 7,500 K-12 Schools Registered for Today's National Day of Silence". 2008-04-25. Retrieved 2008-04-25.  
  20. ^ "Mike Eng announces tolerance-promoting Bill" (streaming video)
  21. ^ Charman, Rachel (2008-08-15). "Family of Lawrence King blame death on school dress code". Retrieved 2008-08-18.  
  22. ^ Ventura County Star - Change of venue in shooting considered
  23. ^ Hernandez, Raul (2008). "Judge OKs adult trial for teen suspect". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2008-07-26.   Published: July 25, 2008
  24. ^ a b Wilson, Kathleen (2008). "McInerney pleads not guilty, lawyer calls charges 'death sentence'". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2008-08-12.   Published: August 8, 2008
  25. ^ a b Hernandez, Raul (2008). "Lawyer named as a guardian for McInerney". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2008-09-28.   Published: September 24, 2008
  26. ^ a b Hernandez, Raul (2008). "Judge rules teen accused of murder may switch lawyers". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2008-10-16.   Published: October 15, 2008
  27. ^ Charman, Rachel (2008). "Lawrence King murder suspect fires public defenders". Pink News. Retrieved 2008-10-16.   Published: October 16, 2008
  28. ^ Hernandez, Raul. "Judge OKs teen's trial in school shooting", Ventura County Star, 2008-12-09. Retrieved on 2009-01-31.
  29. ^ a b Hernandez, Raul. "Judge denies request for internal standards in juvenile cases", Ventura County Star, 2008-12-29. Retrieved on 2009-01-31.
  30. ^ Hernandez, Raul. "Hearing delayed in fatal school shooting", Ventura County Star, 2009-01-27. Retrieved on 2009-01-31.
  31. ^ Saillant, Catherine (18 March 2009). "Father of teen accused in Oxnard school slaying found dead". (Los Angeles Times).,0,2616967.story. Retrieved 21 March 2009.  
  32. ^ "School shooting suspect McInerney attends father's funeral". Ventura County Star. 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-04-14.  
  33. ^ Hernandez, Raul (August 27, 2009). "McInerney pleads not guilty to all charges". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2009-08-28.  

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