The murder of Lawrence King brought hordes of angry parents to his middle school yesterday.
Hundreds of parents filled an Oxnard gymnasium Tuesday night to ask hard questions about why school officials didn’t intervene more aggressively in an escalating feud between two students, which ended last week with the shooting death of 15-year-old student Lawrence King.
In orderly fashion, one parent after another asked for metal detectors on campus, more programs dealing with bullying and for stricter enforcement of the district’s uniform policy.
“There were probably weeks of this student being subjected to harassment,” said Joe Gonzales, parent of a student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, where King was killed Feb. 12. “We need to know what was done, or not done, so we can prevent something like this from happening again instead of reacting to it.”
Details about events the days before the shooting also trickled out as a panel that included school officials, mental health counselors and Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach responded to questions. One parent said her daughter told her that several students exchanged text messages the day before the shooting that talked about what the suspect planned to do.
Crombach acknowledged that several students told police they heard about “comments, statements and threats” that were made but that they didn’t take the chatter seriously and that there was no evidence that it was reported to school officials. The police chief said the alleged shooter, Brian McInerney, 14, has refused to talk to investigators so it is unclear why King was shot.
His actions that morning, however, made it clear he planned an attack, Crombach said. The classroom teacher had little time to react, he said. “It’s pretty clear our suspect was focused on his victim and what he planned to do,” the chief said. He later said that the suspect apparently got the small-caliber handgun from his home.
Crombach and school officials told parents that they are reviewing safety procedures and considering installing metal detectors. A school assembly is planned next month to talk to students about bullying and what they should do if they see it on campus.
The killing last week has sparked anguish not only in Oxnard but across the nation as worried parents and gay rights advocates ask whether school officials should respond more aggressively to schoolyard bullying.
At least a dozen candlelight vigils and memorials are scheduled this week for King, including events in San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento and Ukiah, Calif., and in Massachusetts, New York and South Carolina.
A memorial service for King is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at Westminster Presbyterian Church of Hueneme, 755 Bard Road in Port Hueneme. King’s family said they scheduled an after-school time so that students may attend. A private burial will also be held Friday, according to Camino del Sol Memorial Center and Funeral Home in Oxnard, which is handling the arrangements.
So the kids and school heard “chatter” but did nothing. And I’m still curious why little has been reported on the circumstances that brought Lawrence to be living in a home for abused children. His parents now seem to be positioning themselves are having been supportive of him. As for parents demanding stricter enforcement of the school’s uniform policy, that’s clearly some fucked up “blame the victim” mentality.