School shootings and hate crimes here at home? Sadly, yes

by Karoli on February 14, 2008 · 5 comments

This is so sad. Yesterday there was a shooting at a middle school about 5 miles up the road. The victim, Lawrence King, has been declared brain dead.

Police said it appeared to be an isolated incident between the two students. The students apparently had an ongoing dispute, including an argument Monday, other students said.

The shooting happened during a first-period English class meeting in the school’s computer lab. About two dozen students and their teacher had walked to the lab, where one of the eighth-graders then shot a classmate, said Jerry Dannenberg, superintendent of the Hueneme School District.
- Ventura County Star 2/13/08

From the comments on the Star and reports on KEYT.com, it appears that the victim was homosexual and transgender. I don’t always take comments like that seriously, but it seems as though there’s enough consensus about it across the spectrum of comments made, from trolls to students at the school, to students who actually saw the incident, that there’s at least a little bit of truth in it. The boys were 15 and 14, and the shooter lived with his grandparents. Despite the immediate tendency of many in this little conservative, nasty racist enclave to make this an issue about hispanics, illegal immigration, and gangs, it looks like the shooter was a big, tall, 14-year old white kid with enough homophobia in his heart to find a gun and use it. I can’t help wondering where he had to dig in his soul to find such a dark place.

KEYT reports that the victim, Lawrence King (age 15), lived at Casa Pacifica, a residential care facility for neglected, abused and at-risk children. The alleged shooter (identified by witnesses), Brandon McInerny, is 14 years old and lived with his grandfather, who “had no idea where his grandson might have gotten a gun”, and that he had “no idea why he would do something like this” because he’s “a good kid”.

Um, I feel for the grandfather a lot, but this may well be a case of ‘raising up a child in the way he [will] go’.

On Monday, the suspect allegedly told a female friend that the victim was “having his last day,” said language arts teacher Carol Short. The friend is a student in her class. During the lockdown, the friend was overwhelmed with guilt because she hadn’t told anyone about the comment, Short said.

Short said the suspect used to be in her honors English class. She did not identify him but said he was “a bright kid.”
- VC Star 2/13/08

Not too long ago I wrote about how angry it made me to see what I perceived to be narrow minded homophobic petitions sitting in my church lobby, appealing to members to repeal the recent amendments to equal rights laws in California. Although I believe they should amend the language to be much more specific, one of the areas that was addressed was violence and discrimination toward LGBT students in schools. And of course, the central argument for this sick petition was that transgendered boys would have the right to use the girls’ restroom and vice versa. I believed then and I believe today that the argument is a thin disguise, hiding the fear and homophobia that has risen up out of the churches into their communities. Whether or not Brandon McInerney was exposed to the kind of hate speech that I’ve heard coming out of some people when it comes to the entire LGBT issue, he surely heard it, because out here, it’s everywhere.

I am so sorry for the family of Lawrence King, and the teacher who had to watch her student be shot right in front of her, and the students who had to witness such an atrocity. My prayers and condolences go out to them. But for those who created the hate that lived in Brandon McInerney, I hope they come to terms with their own participation in his guilt. This was a hate crime, plain and simple, and those who taught him that hate should be held to account right alongside him.

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