Monday, July 21, 2008

Larry King's Death Reaches National Spotlight

The unbelievable murder of a young, gay student at an Oxnard, CA middle school back in February of this year is the subject of the cover of the July 28 Newsweek. The article discusses the murder of Larry at the hands of classmate Brandon McInerney, who shot Larry in the head while their English class was working in a school computer lab. Larry was 15 years old and his killer was only 14.

The Newsweek article seems to focus on who is to blame. Is it Larry for coming out as gay, wearing feminine clothing and taunting (to the point of sexual harassment) his homophobic peers? Is it Brandon, the young teenager from a broken home who was one of the main targets of Larry's affection/tormenting? Is it the school for allowing Larry to dress so provocatively, despite a few complaints from teachers? Naturally, everyone involved is pointing their fingers to other parties. The school says that it is Brandon's fault for doing the act, while both Larry's and Brandon's parents think the school is liable for what happened. What is clear is that Larry is dead and Brandon pulled the trigger.

It seems now that Larry's behavior at school was distracting. Some teachers say that they tried to discuss this with one of the assistant principals, Joy Epstein, an openly gay woman, but that she brushed them off or said that there was nothing she could do. Larry had every right to dress however he wanted, as long as his attire was not distracting to other students, but clearly it was. Many speculate that Larry wore the clothes to get attention and to taunt other boys at the school. If this is the case, the school should have done something about it, because it evidently was causing problems.

It is important to remember that Larry is not the only victim here (though he clearly has suffered the most). Brandon McInerney is also a victim; a victim of a broken social services system in California that allowed him to stay with a meth-addicted mother who ran a dope house and a father who beat his wife and even shot her in the arm with a 45. Where do you think Brandon got the gun? From his dad's house. Brandon's public defender, William Quest, blames the school for not stepping in to ease tensions between the two boys, but that is a hard pill to swallow as no news story has said that Brandon tried to talk to someone at the school to help him deal with Larry and his teasing. Instead, he planned to kill Larry a day in advance (he told one of Larry's friends that she would never see Larry again), brought his dad's piece to school, shot Larry in the head and calmly walked out of the building.

The other victims here are the students who teased Larry for being gay (to which Larry responded by sexually harassing them). They are victims because of their ignorance and hate. They clearly do not grasp the situation of what being gay means (though I don't think anyone does at that age). Their disrespect for Larry continued after his death, as a friend of Brandon's was overheard stating, "That's so gay" as Larry's best friend read a poem about him and his mother cried. To not understand the gravity of a situation like this - a situation of life and death - is a sad thing.

No one in this situation is a winner. Not Larry, who is dead. Not Brandon, who faces 50 to life on first degree murder and weapons charges. Not friends of either boy, nor the parents of either boy. There is little good that can come out of a situation like this, but one thing that can be done is to implement new rules and guidelines to prevent something like this from happening again. Maybe a social worker or two at the school to deal with problems that may arise (some may point to strapped school budgets, but with King's parents on the verge of suing, a $50,000 a year social worker would have been cheaper than a settlement or a costly litigation). In any event, Larry's life should not be forgotten and lessons should be learned from such a tragedy. Nothing can bring Larry back, but it is possible to prevent another senseless death. Peace.

Photos - Lawrence "Larry" King (, Brandon McInerney (, A memorial for King outside of Oxnard's E. O. Green Junior High (


  1. Brandon's Defense Fund

  2. For those looking for a hyperlink, here it is:

    Brandon's Defense Fund