Attempted Murder, Hate Crime Charged in Oxnard School Shooting

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) - Prosecutors on Thursday filed charges of attempted murder with a hate-crime enhancement and use of a firearm
against a 14-year-old boy in the classroom shooting of a 15-year-old eighth-grader who was declared brain dead but remained on a ventilator.

Prosecutors planned to seek to have the 14-year-old tried as an adult and expected the charges to be upgraded when victim Lawrence King was taken off the ventilator for organ donation, said Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox.

"It is inevitable that this is going to become a murder case," she said.

Fox said she could not discuss the facts behind the allegation of a hate crime because those details of the case have not been publicly disclosed.

Oxnard police have not specified a motive but said there appeared to be a personal dispute between the two.

Several classmates have said King would wear feminine attire.

King sometimes came to school wearing makeup and high heels, eighth-grader Nicholas Cortez, 14, told The Associated Press.

Another eighth-grader, Michael Sweeney, said King's appearance was "freaking the guys out," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

"He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails - the whole thing," Sweeney told the Times.

King was shot in the head Tuesday morning during a class at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, police said. More than 20 other students were in the room at the time.

Police said a handgun was used in the attack and the 14-year-old was quickly arrested near the school.

King was pronounced brain dead at St. John's Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, Ventura County Senior Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Stevens said.

Doctors planned to remove some of his organs for donation Thursday, Stevens said.

"I think that's what he would have wanted," King's father, Greg King, told the Ventura County Star.

Lawrence King had been under the care of the county foster care system and lived at Casa Pacifica, a nearby center for abused and
neglected children, said Steve Elson, the facility's chief executive.

"We're are all stunned and it's just an unspeakable tragedy," Elson said Wednesday. "This is a very big traumatic experience for all of us."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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