OXNARD, Calif. – Prosecutors on Thursday charged a 14-year-old boy with attempted murder and said he committed a hate crime in the classroom shooting of an eighth-grader who was declared brain dead.
Prosecutors would not say why they filed a hate-crime enhancement with the attempted murder count, but several classmates said the 15-year-old victim, Lawrence King, sometimes wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire.
Prosecutors want the suspect tried as an adult and expect to upgrade the charges after King is taken off a ventilator for organ donation.
"It is inevitable that this is going to become a murder case," Ventura County prosecutor Maeve Fox said.
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.
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.
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 pronounced brain dead at St. John's Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, said Craig Stevens, senior deputy medical examiner in Ventura County. 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."